(31st Ordinary Sunday: Deuteronomy 6:2‑6; Hebrews 7:23-28; Mark 12:28-34)
When we see images of the tablets of the Ten Commandments, they often show on one tablet our obligations to God and, on the other, our duties towards our neighbor.
The question of the scribe in today’s Gospel, and Jesus’ answer did not refer to these. However, there can be no controversy as to which of the ten came first. Rather, the debate concerned which of the 600-plus commandments and statutes of the Law was the most important.
Jesus’ response is so important that the Church gives us its source in the first reading, and the scribe repeats what Jesus says. We see here, also, an encouraging example of what it means to be in harmony with Christ’s teachings, when Jesus tells him: “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”
At La Salette, the Blessed Virgin also mirrored the same message, though from a different perspective. She showed that, by failing to give the Lord the Day he had reserved to himself, and by abusing his Name, her people did not love God.
In her message, the Beautiful Lady touched explicitly on the commandments of the “first tablet.” It would be absurd, however, to think that our duties to our neighbor were of no importance to her. In her discourse, the “Field of Coin” episode recognizes at least the responsibility of parents toward their children.
Jesus was not asked about the “second” commandment. He added it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18). First and second are so integrated and intertwined in the Christian vision that each leads to the other, each stems from the other.
It follows that when we accept Mary’s message and respond to her tears and words, we seek reconciliation with both God and neighbor. In this way, on our journey to becoming saints, we submit to the call and charism of La Salette.
Our hearts have a deep desire to cry out with the Psalmist, “I love you, Lord, my strength!” But we have to mean it, and live it. Jesus is “able to save those who approach God through him” (second reading). When we love him and our neighbor, we hope to hear him say, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”
Wayne Vanasse, and Fr. René Butler, M.S.