First reading Deuteronomy 6:2-6

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart

Moses said to the people: ‘If you fear the Lord your God all the days of your life and if you keep all his laws and commandments which I lay on you, you will have a long life, you and your son and your grandson. Listen then, Israel, keep and observe what will make you prosper and give you great increase, as the Lord the God of your fathers has promised you, giving you a land where milk and honey flow.
  ‘Listen, Israel: the Lord our God is the one Lord. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength. Let these words I urge on you today be written on your heart.’
 

Responsorial Psalm 17(18):2-4,47,51

I love you, Lord, my strength.
 
I love you, Lord, my strength,
  my rock, my fortress, my saviour.
My God is the rock where I take refuge;
  my shield, my mighty help, my stronghold.
The Lord is worthy of all praise,
  when I call I am saved from my foes.
 
I love you, Lord, my strength.
 
Long life to the Lord, my rock!
  Praised be the God who saves me,
He has given great victories to his king
  and shown his love for his anointed.
 
I love you, Lord, my strength.
 

Second reading Hebrews 7:23-28

Christ, because he remains for ever, can never lose his priesthood

There used to be a great number of priests under the former covenant, because death put an end to each one of them; but this one, because he remains for ever, can never lose his priesthood. It follows, then, that his power to save is utterly certain, since he is living for ever to intercede for all who come to God through him.
  To suit us, the ideal high priest would have to be holy, innocent and uncontaminated, beyond the influence of sinners, and raised up above the heavens; one who would not need to offer sacrifices every day, as the other high priests do for their own sins and then for those of the people, because he has done this once and for all by offering himself. The Law appoints high priests who are men subject to weakness; but the promise on oath, which came after the Law, appointed the Son who is made perfect for ever.
 

Gospel Mark 12:28-34

‘You are not far from the kingdom of God’

One of the scribes came up to Jesus and put a question to him, ‘Which is the first of all the commandments?’ Jesus replied, ‘This is the first: Listen, Israel, the Lord our God is the one Lord, and you must 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 must love your neighbour as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.’ The scribe said to him, ‘Well spoken, Master; what you have said is true: that he is one and there is no other. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and strength, and to love your neighbour as yourself, this is far more important than any holocaust or sacrifice.’ Jesus, seeing how wisely he had spoken, said, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God.’ And after that no one dared to question him any more.
 
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To love God, to love others

The scribe went up to Jesus and asked for the most important commandment. Jesus, however, replied by giving him two most important  commandments. God’s first commandment is to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. This means that God has to be the center of our lives and the object of our love. The second commandment is intimately linked to the first, i.e. we are called to love others as ourselves. We cannot love God without loving our neighbour. From this intense love relationship with God, we begin to love others with  God’s own faithful and unconditional love. We begin to commit ourselves to work for the good of others and place their well-being above our  own.
 
The most important thing in life is to have a large heart that embraces God and others. In fact, love is what gives meaning and purpose to  our lives. Therefore, let us ask the Holy Spirit to help us understand what it means to put love as the priority and to practice it in our daily life. 
 
Questions for reflection:
Is the commandment to love God and others a priority for me? Why?
 
 

All Saints, Solemnity

First reading Apocalypse 7:2-4,9-14

I saw a huge number, impossible to count, of people from every nation, race, tribe and language

I, John, saw another angel rising where the sun rises, carrying the seal of the living God; he called in a powerful voice to the four angels whose duty was to devastate land and sea, ‘Wait before you do any damage on land or at sea or to the trees, until we have put the seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.’ Then I heard how many were sealed: a hundred and forty-four thousand, out of all the tribes of Israel.
  After that I saw a huge number, impossible to count, of people from every nation, race, tribe and language; they were standing in front of the throne and in front of the Lamb, dressed in white robes and holding palms in their hands. They shouted aloud, ‘Victory to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’ And all the angels who were standing in a circle round the throne, surrounding the elders and the four animals, prostrated themselves before the throne, and touched the ground with their foreheads, worshipping God with these words, ‘Amen. Praise and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honour and power and strength to our God for ever and ever. Amen.’
  One of the elders then spoke, and asked me, ‘Do you know who these people are, dressed in white robes, and where they have come from?’ I answered him, ‘You can tell me, my lord.’ Then he said, ‘These are the people who have been through the great persecution, and they have washed their robes white again in the blood of the Lamb.’
 

Responsorial Psalm 23(24):1-6

1 The earth is the LORD’s and the fulness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein;
2 for he has founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the rivers.
3 Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place?
4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false, and does not swear deceitfully.
5 He will receive blessing from the LORD, and vindication from the God of his salvation.
6 Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob.

 

Second reading 1 John 3:1-3

We shall be like God because we shall see him as he really is

Think of the love that the Father has lavished on us,
  by letting us be called God’s children;
  and that is what we are.
Because the world refused to acknowledge him,
  therefore it does not acknowledge us.
My dear people, we are already the children of God
  but what we are to be in the future has not yet been revealed;
all we know is, that when it is revealed
  we shall be like him
  because we shall see him as he really is.
Surely everyone who entertains this hope
  must purify himself, must try to be as pure as Christ.
 

Gospel Matthew 5:1-12a

How happy are the poor in spirit

Seeing the crowds, Jesus went up the hill. There he sat down and was joined by his disciples. Then he began to speak. This is what he taught them:
 
‘How happy are the poor in spirit;
  theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Happy the gentle:
  they shall have the earth for their heritage.
Happy those who mourn:
  they shall be comforted.
Happy those who hunger and thirst for what is right:
  they shall be satisfied.
Happy the merciful:
  they shall have mercy shown them.
Happy the pure in heart:
  they shall see God.
Happy the peacemakers:
  they shall be called sons of God.
Happy those who are persecuted in the cause of right:
  theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
 
‘Happy are you when people abuse you and persecute you and speak all kinds of calumny against you on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.’
 
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Blessed are you

Saints are ordinary people who lived their lives extraordinarily by living accordingly to the Beatitudes. Beatitudes are guides that help us live each day with the right attitudes and values. To live the life of the Beatitudes is not an easy journey because it implies going against the  current of this world that values wealth and power. Yet, today, Jesus invites us to make the Beatitudes part of our lives. We choose to be  poor in spirit by recognising our poverty and accepting that we need God. We choose to be gentle and humble towards others, especially the weakest around us. We mourn as we suffer for the pain of others. We hunger and thirst for His justice in the world by standing up to what is  true and loving. We give mercy and not condemnation to others who are in need of forgiveness. We work for peace and unity in the family,  community, parish, society. We are ready to walk this path of the Beatitudes because we want to follow the same footsteps of Jesus.
 
Question for reflection:
At the end of my life, for what beatitude/s will I be remembered?