Benedictine University and MySpiritualAdvisor.com’s Mark Kurowski reflects on loving others who drive us CRAZY.  How do a choir director, a Scribe and the Resurrection work together to maket his possible?.  Listen to this podcast of his reflection for the 31st Sunday of Ordinary Time. Please read Mark 12:28-34. #GreatCatholicPreaching #Catholic #BenU1887

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For Benedictine University and MySpiritualAdvisor.com, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 11/4/2012The 31st Sunday of Ordinary Time.

Please pause this audio and read Mark 12:28-34.
    I was leading a youth group at a small church in my home town.  There was a choir director there that I found difficult.  She found me difficult, too.  When she was in a pinch, I would sing in the choir because God wanted me to, not because she wanted me to do so.  One rehearsal, she looked up and said, “I think that we love each other simply because we love Christ.”  I could only reply, “I think you are right.”
    It is important to recognize that more than having a grudge, finding a way to discriminate against someone and finding a way to feel superior because of how you practice your faith, is the recognition that loving God and neighbor are the greatest commandments, have been and always will be.  Amen.  This was why the choir director I couldn’t stand and who couldn’t stand me loved each other.  When we were unable to love each other because of our own lack of human love for each other, we were able to love each other because, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God.  The Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your strength.”
    That passage, “you shall love the Lord your God,” is the traditional “She-MA” of the Hebrew people.  It is the great confession that we can see is agreed to by the Scribe and Jesus in the passage.  Jesus adds a passage from Leviticus 19:18, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” to complete the Shema.  
    This passage is one of the few where there is a scribe who comes to Jesus impressed by Jesus’ knowledge.  If you don’t recall, the section of Chapter 12 of the Gospel of Mark just prior to this has the Sadduccees, who say that there is no Resurrection, disputing with Jesus, who is going to be Resurrected.  The scribe likes what he hears from the teacher and therefore asks him another question about the heart of Jesus’ creed.  It was common at that time in Israel to have disputes over which one of the more than six hundred commandments were first.  As a Rabbi, Jesus was following a tradition of testing to see who was in and who was out.
    The remarkable part of this passage is not that Jesus answers wisely, but that the scribe adds this: that the Shema’ is  “much more than burnt offerings and sacrifices.”  It is ironic that it is through the sacrifice of Christ that the Shema’ is bound together as one.  There is not any act that is more than Jesus loving God by not refusing the Cup of God in the Garden of Gethsemane and Jesus loving us through his sacrifice on the Cross.  We should note that immediately after the placement of this favorable view of the scribes, Jesus goes on to criticize the Scribes for their hypocrisy.
    Yet, what we see here is that more than testing people or trying to divide them by who “answers correctly,” we are called to do two things: Love God and neighbor.  When we can’t love our neighbor because they yell at our children when we are not around, or they are not nice, or they are different from us, then we love them because we love God.
    A Muslim gentleman with whom I work here at Benedictine University told me one day that the one thing that just blows his mind about us Catholics and Christians is that we are called by God to “love our enemies.”  He has taken to loving his enemies because he finds it so incredibly hard to do that he judged it a terrific offering to God, to love our enemies.  Are not our enemies our neighbors?  Does being a neighbor constitute goodness automatically?  No, it does not.
    Think about your life.  Are there friends, relatives, coworkers, neighbors, people in your church or elsewhere who annoy you?  Are there people with whom you wish you did not have to interact?  Give them to God.  Pray for them.  Remember their birthdays.  Say ‘hi’ to them.  Give them an honest complement.  Do it because you love God, not because you love them.  Love them through loving God.
    When it came time for me to be recommended for holy orders, that choir director recommended me wholeheartedly.  She recommended me because we both had the same creed: we loved God and that forced us to love each other.  Who is it in your life that you need to love because you love God?  Make your list and start loving them today.  Amen?  Amen.
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