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Once and for all... hit the nail on the head!

Mc 12, 28-34 

"Hitting the nail on the head" is one of those phrases most used in colloquial language to indicate that something was right. Its origin is not really related, as it may seem, with the action of hitting the head of the nail with a hammer.

For centuries, a very simple street game has been practiced in some places that consists of throwing and inserting a ring or a horseshoe into a metal bar (similar to a large nail) buried at a considerable distance from the players. The one who hit the nail on the head the most times took the victory and, sometimes, some money.

This Sunday, the word of God questions us on the most essential point of our faith, and challenges us to be willing to correct our aim in life so that we hit the nail on the head of our existence, only then will it have been worth living and it will be worth it. worth dying

Also, this week, we are celebrating two wonderful events: Life and Death. On All Saints' Day, we celebrate the lives of those who have gone before us, because they have reached Full Life before us and who want us close to them in heaven, we also celebrate that by baptism we have received the gift of the eternal life that we have as an inheritance and that is the capacity to enter into communion with God from now on and then forever.

And then on November 2 we remember and honor our faithful departed. Death is the other dimension of the cycle of life and in Mexico we celebrate it with great revelry because for us death does not have the last word, since our Mayan ancestors. In fact, the bread of the dead, which is round, symbolizes the complete cycle of life and death that surround our existence (see photos below).

In this context of the two poles that make up the whole of existence: life and death, this Sunday's Gospel invites us and challenges us to ask ourselves a fundamental question: how close do you feel and how close are you to the Kingdom? of God? Could Jesus personally tell us what he said to the lawyer with whom he is conversing: "You are not far from the kingdom of Heaven"? Surely our first reaction is uuuuuu I'm miles away! This reaction is normal because the closer you are to the light, the more dirt you see, the closer you are to the Lord, the further you are from the Kingdom.

But the important thing is not measuring the distance but knowing that we are always distant, feeling called to move on. The philosopher Miguel de Unamuno knew how to express this idea very well when he said:

"The way to hit the nail once is to hit the horseshoe a hundred times."

For this reason we must understand that we are not asked to be perfect in order to live in the Kingdom of Heaven, but to know how to start over as many times as necessary, because whoever does not recognize their sin does not recognize their distance from the kingdom of heaven.

Let's not throw in the towel before trying again to hit the perfect nail, find the essentials of life. And let's not get discouraged if we get distracted, without using life only for the things of this world, if we fall into mousetraps over and over again defending our aged cheeses or trapped by our old and filthy cloaks unlike Bartimaeus.

Mc 12, 28 is the gospel of this Sunday and it presents us with a Master of the law, an expert in the law of Moses, he was recognizable by his way of dressing, worthy of the teachers, he approaches Jesus to ask him about the most important commandment, why? Because at the beginning, the law marked the 10 commandments, but with the passing of time there had become 613 commandments that help the Jew to live a life of holiness, they are divided into 248 positive, 365 negative. For example:

  • Children are to be taught the law at all times (Deut. 6:7)

  • The Law is to be studied and taught to others (Deut. 6:7)

  • The leper is ritually unclean (Lev. 13:3)

  • The leper's clothing is ritually unclean (Lev. 13:51)

  • Become ritually clean by ritual immersion (Lev. 15:16)

  • In the seventh year nothing that grows has an owner and is ready for everyone (Ex. 23:11)

  • One must rest on the Sabbath (Ex. 23:12).

  • This day was to be declared holy at the beginning and at the end (Ex. 20:8)

  • The poor were to receive interest-free loans (Ex. 22:24)

  • The garment should be returned to the owner if he needed it (Ex. 22:26; Dt. 24:13) etc.

These and many others were the commandments to which people should be attentive if they wanted to live in holiness. Sometimes life became heavy because it happened that 100 had to be fulfilled in the same day... Jesus said well that the law instead of liberating had become a burden, a heavy load. Because the law must serve for that, to free not to enslave, it cannot be so bulky or difficult to handle that it becomes a burden.

For this reason, the question that the teacher of the law asks Jesus is fundamental, he does not ask him which of these 613 laws must be lived or which ones can be ignored, which is more important, this or that, etc., no, He does not ask to negotiate, he asks to go to the fundamentals, because the precepts can be 613 or 316, what interests this Master of the Law at this moment is the core, the spirit behind those 613 precepts: What is the first commandment, the most important?

And Jesus responds with the Shema, that is, the fundamental law of the Jewish people: "Listen Israel, the Lord our God is the only Lord. And you will love the Lord your God with all your heart with all your mind, with all your strength", but Jesus adds a new word that is not in the Hebrew tradition and is a whole dimension to discover and practice: "you shall love the Lord with all your intention" (in Greekδιάνοια;dianoia).

What does it mean for me at this moment in my life to love the Lord with ALL my being, and with all my intention? Does it not mean that in everything I do my intention is to love him in all things and to love all things and people in him? It seems like a play on words but in reality our God is a God who wants to occupy all the spaces of our being, he does not love us like half-full wells or half-dry gardens.

But he also adds a second commandment, because there cannot be a first without a second. Jesus is presented by the evangelist Mark as the Lawgiver par excellence, the expert in the Law of Moses, and he responds by linking two commandments that from now on can no longer be separated. The voice of Christ is the voice of the supreme authority of this new Christian community that is the Church, thus, he affirms what the second commandment is even though he has not been asked: "the second commandment is this, you shall love your neighbor as yourself same".

Perhaps, the Master of the Law... when he heard "the second one" he said... no no stop with the first one is enough for me because I try to love God, and although he did not say: "I go to mass on Sundays" , "I pray the rosary with my grandmother" "I help with catechism" "I am going to sing the mornings to the Virgin of Guadalupe" etc. etc., because he was not Mexican hehehe, however, he surely thought: "I study the Law of Moses and I teach it to my children, I keep the Sabbath of rest, I honor the name of the Lord saying that it is the only one and I do not worship other idols " etc. That's why maybe he thought "Stop it, Master, I have that and it's enough for me..."

But Jesus closed his response with a flourish, forever uniting love for God and neighbor by saying a phrase in the singular: "There is noother commandment more important thanthis". Yes, they are two in one. Pay one and get two! Great deal of the year... and what is surprising is that this great teacher of the law recognizes that Jesus answers truthfully and learns the lesson well, because he repeats what the teacher has said, and he assimilated that double idea so well that he recites again all under the sentence: "You are right, Master, this is the most important commandment".

But he also personalizes it, makes it his own, because for him, the ritual sacrifices for the forgiveness of sins, the ablutions or purification rites for sins, the sacrifices to honor God were important and perhaps the first thing for him, but Now he says: "That commandment to love God and your neighbor as yourself is more important than all sacrifices and holocausts."

In this gospel, this Master of the Law invites us to question ourselves, which is or are, in practice and in our real life, the commandment or commandments that we practice the most? What are the commandments that we retain most important to us? And I mean not the ten commandments of God's law, but those we obey and are secondary. To those projects, ideas, desires that are in our hearts, in our minds, in our intentions, in our strength because we live for them even though they are secondary and relative.

That is why this question is definitive and fundamental, because sometimes we have a lot of ideas, projects, interests, etc., which have become our laws and without realizing it they order us and unfortunately they are neither the true nor the fundamental ones.

It does not happen to them that sometimes we respond or react out of inertia, I believe that this inertia is actually an idea that we have made law in our hearts or in our thoughts and which we love with everything... for example, it has not happened to them that sometimes we are on the defensive... because our basic idea is: 'they have already done me a lot of damage and I am not going to allow thisjerk @ hurt me", and we are right, but when we do not master this thought because we are not masters and masters of ourselves, we run the risk of our thoughts dominating us, and instead of listening without prejudice, we then draw the sword because as We say in Mexico "we see Moors with tranchetes".

Or when you have convinced yourself that since things do not work out for you it is because someone put the evil eye on you and you are looking for someone to make them pay... when the truth is that we live eaten up by resentment and this idea always attracts the negative , they are ideas that we make law because they are thoughts that we keep and feed and make us enemies of ourselves or of others: "I am sofaith@ not even flies come near me" and well, with the depression that comes to us, then we become uglier hehe; or we say "if I don't study such a thing, I won't be good for anything because if not, I'm nobody"... when perhaps we have an incredible potential that we do not know and by not believing in ourselves for less valuing ourselves we leave the Church of God crippled, hoping that in another time, in another circumstance, another person will do it a thousand times better than me... and well Maybe yes, but he will never put the part that I have to put in. What are those internal laws that manipulate you/us personally and distract us from what is essential?

That is why the Lord Jesus reminds us that the first commandment is to Love the Lord with ALL our HEART, MIND, STRENGTH AND INTENTION. Because? because the love of the Lord is the only one capable of freeing us from our useless laws, which we make of ourselves, make life heavy for us, waste time and energy and above all steal our happiness, that happiness of simple saints or of simple saints. Those who freed themselves from useless precepts or commandments at their convenience. Because his Love is capable of filling the gaps, satisfying the solitudes, breaking the hearts of stone, healing the wounds, raising the fallen, as the first beautiful reading last Sunday already told us: "They had left crying, but I bring them full of comfort; I will lead them to the streams of water on a level path, where they will not stumble. For I am a father to Israel and Ephraim is my firstborn" (Jer 31, 7-9).

Because to love him with all your heart, mind, strength and intention is to let him restore us, rejuvenate, renew us, as the prophet Is 40,31 says "but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength; they will soar with wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not grow weary", because " who fills your years with good things, so that your youth may be renewed like the eagle's" (Ps 103:5).

So, only if we live immersed in the love and mercy of the Lord, in a real and very personal dialogue with him, asking the Holy Spirit to enlighten us to recognize our internal laws, those of the jungle or those of love, from which we we have managed to liberate and from which we are still tied, only then and at the moment that his Word begins to become our everything, accompanied by a good spiritual companion, by a community of faith, by frequenting the sacraments, then our youth is renewed like eagles, our strength will be renewed and we will run without getting tired or we will walk without getting tired. We will love our neighbor as myself.

And it is one of these saints that we have celebrated the feast of November 1st. Of those who have already reached the goal but also of those who are on the way to it. And if we have our eyes open like Bartimaeus, we can see many Christians like us who sometimes lose the battles but never the war. Because the war is won.

I met a slightly dysfunctional family one day, but I was surprised to see in it that there is a living member and that it is a lung or a heart loving in the style of Jesus, because they simply want to live and practice their faith; a faith that leads her to love in the midst of struggles. One of the children has mental problems, she is autonomous but sometimes it is unbearable, but there is a sister who supports her with so much love, sometimes she puts her in her place, but even when she sometimes says things harshly, in her tone, in his actions, in his intention, one feels that he loves her. This person is a true lung of love in your family. But she does not distance herself from the Lord because she knows that he is her strength and her motor to continue supporting her sister with love.

And you, how many actions have you seen this week that indicate that the person has been touched by the holiness of God? For his love, his grace, his tenderness, his delicacy? Have you seen this grace of God in you, have you seen his holiness in you? Have we allowed ourselves to be overwhelmed by that sanctified grace that is like a ray of light that penetrates even through the finest window or door opening, no matter how much we keep it closed? Have you allowed his truth and hardness to penetrate you, always full of mercy, his clarity that illuminates the darkness and takes you out of lies out of pure love? This is the most important commandment.

And all this because that Master of the law personalized the words of Jesus and added that this double commandment was more important than all the other laws of ritual sacrifices so important in the Jewish society of Jesus' time. It is therefore very important to make a serious examination of ourselves to see what our ritual laws are, those that our society, family and personally follow out of habit, inertia, out of necessity without asking ourselves if it is the fundamental one or not.

To this personalized response from the teacher of the law, Jesus as legislator closes the case with a sentence: "You are not far from the Kingdom of God" (Mc 12,34).

Fantastic answer... because the fundamental question is what do you love? because "you are what you love", what do you dedicate your time and your life to, your decisions and options, your thoughts and intentions? because we can only be happy if we understand what the fundamental thing is, and we can only live in deep peace if we are living this day as if it were the last day of my life, because in fact it could be and because I am convinced that I have not lost my time, my strength, my love and I have hit the nail on the head... You are not far from the Kingdom of God is the final goal that is reached by living and practicing "two in one", the double commandment.

And I am not referring to being in Church all day, which is necessary and important to have time alone with Love, but I am also referring to our options, decisions, intentions, daily projects, it is there that if our life is interwoven by love and to love, to let ourselves be loved by the Lord and to let him love in us and through us the neighbor, the co-worker, the boss, thefather in law, in sickness and health, spiritual and physical, in good times and in bad... then we will not be on the periphery of the Kingdom and far from it, but we will be close, very close to Heaven on earth, that is how we can sleep peacefully because we have hit the nail on the head. Then the Catrina will be able to arrive, elegant and well dressed and she will not scare us or take anything from us because we have given everything, absolutely everything, to the Lord (the Catrina is a popular Mexican tradition that represents death).

Pedro Casaldáliga, Claretian missionary bishop born in Spain and naturalized Brazilian, has turned 91, is bishop emeritus of the Araguaia Valley in Brazil, a valley he calls the Valley of the Forgotten, has always been in defense of the rights of peasants , the indigenous people and the quilombolas, that is, the descendants of African slaves, at the age of 91 said: "My causes are more important than my own life" and said:

«When I get to heaven they will ask me did you love?

and I, without saying anything, will open my heart and it will be full of names»

I, my good God, starting with your name, can say today that you are the first of the names on my list, you are the first because because of you I have lost all things and I consider them as rubbish... because of you I am here, far from my country, my people, devoted to receive what you want me to give... Your name my good God is written in the book of my heart and I have tried to this day to love you with all my being, with all my mind, my strength and my intention. And myself, I am trying to love myself as you love me because if I do not love myself well, as you love me, I will not be able to love my brothers well, the ones you place next to me today, the Italians and the Americans, the English and Polish, my classmates, my brother priests, my classmatesyou are on the way, those who love me and those who don't... 

Lord, may this teacher of the law who is not far from the Kingdom of heaven serve as an example for me to integrate my life and weave it into the rhythm of your love, letting me love and the rhythm of your heart, which loves because it loves, love to love!

Lord, let me be aware of those thoughts that I turn into laws and that inwardly have me tied to preset responses!

Lord, let me cling to your love with all my heart, mind, strength and intention so that, soaked in it, it lets me renew like the eagle, supports me when I can't go on, throws me when I don't want to, only then can I! give myself completely!

Lord, may I not tire of throwing the horseshoe a hundred times until I can hit the nail once!

And above all, that I can live this day as if it were the last of my life, and that I can rest in peace because I can open my heart and show it to you full of names.

We sing to focus

the heart in the essential

To live is to put the heart

and the foot behind the other

on the path that opens

At the end of the road you will tell me

Have you lived, have you loved?

And I without saying anything

I will open the heart full of names.

To live is to put the heart

and the foot behind the other

on the path that opens

Bishop Pedro Casaldaliga at 90 years of age

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