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Reflection on the 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted on October 31, 2021, by Kathy Wright SL

The Jewish people had just completed their 40 years of wandering in the desert. Moses has brought them to the promised land. They had time and many opportunities to learn valuable lessons along the way. God has promised them an abundant homeland and an increase in their numbers – the perfect formula for rebuilding their nation.

Moses has just given the people the 10 Commandments and God has asked them to observe these commandments, remember what they have seen, heard and learned over these last 40 years and take advantage of this grace-filled time that God has created for them.

The first reading, which follows the announcement of the 10 Commandments, then goes on to remind the people to follow God’s instructions for living and they will be blessed with long life and prosperity. The essence of the instructions is love – love of God and love of neighbor – love with all your heart, all your soul and all your strength. 

I can only imagine how grateful and relieved the people must have felt when that journey through the desert was finally over and they had a sense of a brighter future for themselves and their children for the first time in decades. But what we know over all the time that has elapsed since that time is that people can too easily lose their sense of gratitude and giftedness, and suddenly find themselves wanting something else, something more, and becoming dissatisfied and distracted.  

We see it in our own country today as in other developed nations. Too many people who have been blessed want something else or something more, and they take for granted all that they have. Whatever it is that they have, it is not enough. 

Every day when I hear about the supply chain problems in this country and the long wait times for the endless parade of stuff that we demand, especially stuff for Christmas, I think this is the perfect time to loose those chains, free ourselves from our consumption habits and return our focus to what really matters. This is the perfect time to celebrate holidays with family and friends without all the material trappings. 

Many of us don’t “need” anything. We could share our gifts with those in need. I don’t think there will be supply chain delays if we give money and time to organizations who are feeding the poor, sheltering the homeless, attending to the needs of refugees, immigrants and all life on the planet. A heartfelt card or letter could mean as much or more than any store-bought gift. Time spent with family instead of buying gifts for the family could be the best gift of all.

The Gospel reminds us of this message and set of instructions from God when Jesus is asked what is the first, or most important, of all the commandments. Jesus doesn’t have a new message; it is the same message that we heard from Deuteronomy. The essence of the commandments is love – love of God and love of neighbor – love with all your heart, all your soul and all your strength.  

Because everything flows from such a life of love. An abundance of such strong love would surely diminish killing, coveting and all the unwise choices people make from a place of fear, jealousy, attachment, insecurity, power or resentment. So our task today and each day is to encourage and develop an abundance of that strong love in ourselves and in others. With a strong global supply chain of love uniting people there is so much that we could do, so many problems we could successfully solve and so much good that we could inject into our world.

Kathy Wright SL

Kathy Wright SL

Kathy, a CPA, joined the Sisters of Loretto in 1986 and continued her service to a variety of non-profits (including Nerinx Hall and Loretto Academy) and Loretto with her financial skills. She has enjoyed serving on many committees, including the Investment Committee, Guatemala Sister Community Committee, Executive Committee, Finance Committee and Forum. Kathy lived and worked in Haiti, where she fell in love with the people there. She now resides in Florida.