May 2021 - Love the Lord with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind
In the twenty-second chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, we find a Pharisee, a scholar of the law, testing Jesus by asking him the question: “‘Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?’ He said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments’” (Matthew 22:35-40).
For the serious Christian disciple, for the individual who chooses to love God, it is most essential to offer to Him what is His due, that is, complete and total love. God desires that we love Him with our entire being – with our whole heart, our whole mind, and our whole soul. Jesus declares that the whole law is dependent upon these two commandments. Love God! Love your neighbor! The first and more important consists in the unconditional love of God, and the second is a consequence and a result of the first. It really is impossible to do apart from the grace of God.
It is also important to remember that God always takes the initiative, offering to us a way of life, a way to love so that we can be more fully human, more fully free to be the people that He invites us to be – to receive the gratuitous gift of God’s love so that we may be able in turn to love God and others with the kind of love that comes from Him. This love is unconditional; it is not self-seeking. It is merciful. It is compassionate. It seeks to affirm what is good in the person we are called to love. We can only love God and others in this way if we believe that God loves us. And because of God’s great love for us, we live each day out of love for God and for His people.
To love God with all your heart means that as serious Christians, we are called to love Him with all our desires – with everything that we cherish and value. What is it that fills our passions and appetites? If it is not God or of God, then we are not loving Him with all our heart. The Sacred Heart of Jesus was pierced on the cross to show us how much He loves us, from which flowed blood and water, grace and mercy. Jesus longs to transform and change our selfish, hardened hearts to be more like His own Sacred Heart so that we can be gracious and merciful toward others, so that we can be pierced and emptied of our own false desires and filled with the love of Jesus Christ.
To love God with all your soul means to love God with your truest, deepest self. It implies that we love God with our character and unique personality, that we love Him with our conscience – in the knowledge of our own sinfulness and unworthiness. It means to love God where you are at and not make any excuses for patterns of behavior that are sinful and selfish.
To love God with all your mind means to love God with your unique ability to reason. It means that we love God with our ideas, notions, opinions, conceptions, and convictions. We love God with all our mind when all of these are formed and are united with the eternal Truth who is a person, Christ Jesus our Lord. So often our lives become filled with platitudes, philosophies, attitudes, prejudices, and preconceived ideas that are in contradiction with the Gospel. To love God with all our mind means that we make room and make time for God so that our minds be renewed by His eternal truths and be filled with His divine love.
For those who choose to follow Jesus, loving God with our heart, mind, and soul means that we give Him our very best! We aspire to please Him. We try to live according to His law of love. When we can do this, we will be able to love God and love our sisters and brothers freely, generously, and without reservation.
By: Father Kevin J. Martin, pastor of St. Kateri Tekakwitha Parish in Calais