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31st Sunday in Ordinary Time (Ages 6-9): You Shall

(Adults, you could read the first paragraph of the reflection to the child, then read the Gospel, and then continue with the reflection.)

In the Gospel for this Sunday, a person comes to Jesus, wanting to know the ways of God. He asks,

“Which commandment is the first of all?”

A commandment is something God asks of us. God calls us to act in a certain way. People talk about the Ten Commandments, but when we search the Holy Bible, we can find many commandments of God. God calls people in many different ways. How can we know what we are called to do? This man wants to know. Of all the many ways, of all the many commandments, which one is first?

And Jesus begins,

‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one;

God is One. It is almost as if Jesus is saying, there are not many commandments, there are not many ways—there is really only One.

you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.

The One commandment is to Love. And how are we to love? Four times Jesus says, "with all." Is there anything left over?

But Jesus is not finished. He says,

The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

He puts these two commandments together. He makes them One.

Love God.

Love your neighbour.

Love yourself.

That is a lot of loving.

Can we love our neighbour if we do not love God?

First, love God.

Second, love your neighbour as yourself.

The order seems important.

But how do we love God? How do we love our neighbour as ourself?

With all our strength, our whole body. Can our whole body love? Can our fingers love, can our toes? With all, Jesus says. You shall.

With all our mind, our whole brain. Can our whole brain love? Can our thoughts love, can our ideas? With all, Jesus says. You shall.

With all our heart, our whole set of feelings. Can all our feelings love? Can our worries love, can our hope? With all, Jesus says. You shall.

With all our soul, our whole self. Can our whole self love? Can all who we were, all who we are, all who we will be—love? All, Jesus says. You shall.

"You shall" means we must. It also means we can. Jesus is pretty certain we can do this.

We can take some time to think this week how our body can love, how our mind can love, how our heart can love, how our whole self can love. We could maybe write it down to remember. Or draw a picture. Sometimes that works better.

How close to each other would we be, if everyone loved like this? How close to God would we all be?

Jesus says,

“You are not far from the kingdom of God.”

We are on the right track!

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