The month of November begins with the celebration of All Saints Day and All Souls Day. The entire month of November is dedicated to praying for our loved ones who have gone before us. 2 Maccabees 12:38–46 explains the need to pray for the dead. We read in 12:42 that “they prayed that the sinful deed might be fully blotted out.” Praying for the dead is a rich tradition of the Church.
God wants all of our souls. We are to give God our whole bodies and all our strength like St. Kateri Tekakwitha. Pope emeritus Benedict XVI described Kateri Tekakwitha as a "striking example of sanctity and heroic charity." Her life reminds us, he said, of the "historic role played by women in building up of the church in America." Her example and intercession, he added, should inspire all of us in our "pursuit of holiness" and in our "efforts to contribute to the growth of God's Kingdom in the hearts of people today."
Let’s take a look at this weekend’s readings. There were 613 laws that Moses gave in the Torah, the first five books of the Bible. There were a series of laws written to protect these 613. The scribes knew every one of them ,and they had high importance in their lives. Here a scribe comes with a question for Jesus: "Which is the first of all the commandments?" The Ten Commandments, which are the constitution of the people of God, were part of a covenant that God entered into with a specific group of people - the Israelites. If we look at the Ten Commandments, the first three commandments have to do with God. He is the source of everything in our life. These commandments are about our relationship to God. The second tablet of the law (the remaining seven commandments) refer to our human relationships with one another.
Jesus summarized the commandments and gave not just one but two first commandments: love of God and love of neighbor are more important than all the burnt offerings and sacrifices one could make. In the first reading from the Book of Deuteronomy, it says fear the Lord, our God, and keep his commandment throughout the life. Love and fear, how do these two go together? There is a fear because of love, isn’t it? I don’t want mess up my relationship with my friend, so I don’t want say it or do it. It can be applied to God too. He loved us first, and gave us everything. Can we give him everything? It is not an easy task, and we have keep on trying. We will get there one day. He gives us his total attention and he needs our total attention. I close my message with a thought which I read somewhere that was dedicated to Max Lucado.
Max Lucado, in his book, "And the Angels were Silent," reminds us that each of us has got a donkey that the Lord needs. He writes: "Sometimes I get the impression that God wants me to give him something and sometimes I don't give it because I don't know for sure, and then I feel bad because I've missed my chance. Other times I know he wants something but I don't give it because I'm too selfish. And other times, too few times, I hear him and I obey him and feel honored that a gift of mine would be used to carry Jesus to another place. And still other times I wonder if my little deeds today will make a difference in the long haul."