The Heart of Love

October 31, 2021
Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with beautiful Psalm 18:

I love you, O LORD, my strength,
    O LORD, my rock, my fortress, my deliverer.
R. I love you, Lord, my strength.
My God, my rock of refuge,
    my shield, the horn of my salvation, my stronghold!

Psalm 18: 2-3

In our readings, both Deuteronomy and Mark proclaim the call to love God wholeheartedly.

In Mark, it is one of the scribes who initiates this proclamation by asking Jesus which is the first – most important – of the commandments. Unlike many of Jesus’ encounters with the scribes and Pharisees, this one does not seem hostile. The man, as one might expect of an expert in the Law, wants to know if Jesus continues the priorities of the Torah. 

One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him,
“Which is the first of all the commandments?” 

Mark 12:28

He is pleased with Jesus’ answer. And Jesus is pleased with him. We can almost see Christ’s smile at the scribe’s sincere and lived response. 

Jesus replied, “The first is this:
Hear, O Israel!
The Lord our God is Lord alone!
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul, 
with all your mind,
and with all your strength.
The second is this:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no other commandment greater than these.” 
The scribe said to him, “Well said, teacher.

Mark 12: 29-31

This man sees through the Pharisaical confusions which have been heaped upon this most important law. He understands that love of God and neighbor mean infinitely more than burnt offerings and public sacrifices.


How do we reach this wholehearted love in our complex lives? We’re not busy with burnt offerings, but we are distracted by so many forces that lay claim to our attention and devotion. 

We love many worthy and unworthy things in our lives. We often confuse real love with one of its masquerading forms – “loves” that are self-serving rather than other-serving.

Today’s Alleluia verse is an answer to our, “How?”.

Whoever loves me
will keep my word, says the Lord;
and my father will love him
and we will come to him.

John 14:23

Real love is proved by action. It’s that simple.
What do my actions say about where my heart is?
Let me just flip back through my last 24 hours
to see if God would have smiled at my choices, words, and actions.
And let me change what I need to change for tomorrow.


Poetry: from Rumi

Last night I learned how to be a lover of God,
To live in this world and call nothing my own.

I looked inward
And the beauty of my own emptiness
filled me till dawn.
It enveloped me like a mine of rubies.
Its hue clothed me in red silk.

Within the cavern of my soul
I heard the voice of a lover crying,
“Drink now! Drink now!”—

I took a sip and saw the vast ocean— 
Wave upon wave caressed my soul. 
The lovers of God dance around 
And the circle of their steps
becomes a ring of fire round my neck.

Heaven calls me with its rain and thunder—
a hundred thousand cries
yet I cannot hear…..

All I hear is the call of my Beloved.


Music: V’Ahavta- Marty Goetz

V’Ahavta is part of the Shema Yisrael (שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל)- a prayer that serves as a centerpiece of the morning and evening Jewish prayer services.

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