Sunday 4th may either be kept as the 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time – or in some churches as All Saints’ Sunday (if the Feast is transferred from Thursday 1st).
The readings for 31st Sunday are Deuteronomy 6: 2-6, Hebrews 7:23-28 and Mark 12: 28-34 (Roman Catholic & Church of England lectionaries). In the Gospel reading, Jesus is asked what the greatest commandment is. He replies by weaving together verses from the first reading (Deuteronomy’s command to love God with all one’s heart, soul and strength) with verses from Leviticus 19 – about loving our neighbours as ourselves.
This passage expresses a central theme of Scripture – that love of God is inseparable from right treatment of our neighbours. Faith in God, and right worship of God, require practical works of justice and of mercy. This is not about winning our salvation by good deeds: but transformed relationships – including economic ones – are part of what happens when we allow God to be sovereign in our lives.
The Gospel reading for All Saints’ Sunday (Church of England lectionary) is John 11.32-44 – the raising of Lazarus from the dead. A starting-point for reflection might be the Christian Aid slogan We believe in life before death. The story of Lazarus, and the lives of holy men and women (such as S Francis of Assisi, S Margaret of Scotland and more recently Oscar Romero and Dorothy Day) speak to us of the way resurrection life dawns in this world. We are promised, not eternal life in heaven, but a new heaven and a new earth, and in Jesus and his Church, that new creation begins to dawn. The Bible is unambiguous in its teaching: this renewal has an economic and social dimension. It is ‘good news for the poor’ (Luke 4) with the hungry fed and the humble exalted (Luke 1).
This is Living Wage Week – pray for all who live on poverty pay; for churches who are reflecting and acting on this issue. Fuller details in CTC’s Living Wage Resource Pack.