LOVING GOD WITH OUR WHOLE BEING

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time          

            There is a “common denominator” among Olympic champions: They devote and focus practically all their time, energy and resources on their goal. They put their whole being – heart, soul and mind – into winning the Olympic gold medal.

            Should we do less in fulfilling the Greatest Commandment? “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” We are to love God not only with our heart – not only with our feelings, emotions and desires. We are to love God not only with our soul – not only with our spiritual energies and powers. We are to love God not only with our mind – not only with our intellectual assent. We are to love the Lord our God with all our all. We are to love God with our whole being.

            If we love God with our whole being, then we will worship him even with the way we approach and relate to other people, even while we work or do business or perform our task, even as we take care of our children or of our aging parents. If we love God with our whole being, then we will pray to him, we will always find time to commune and communicate with him, and we will always ask what he wants from us. If we love God with our whole being, then we will we will read his Word or the Bible so as to be enlightened. We will read the events and circumstance of our lives in the light of the Word of God so as to discern his will, discover his message and act according to his plan.

            Jesus’ desires and preferences must be our consuming preoccupation. We are not to be preoccupied with our personal plans and projects and with our selfish interests and ambitions. We are not to be consumed with getting rich and accumulating material possessions. We are not to be obsessed with grabbing power and exercising control over others. We are not to be too engrossed with gaining popularity and winning the esteem and admiration of others. This is not to be the strongest desire of our heart; this is not to be the cornerstone of our soul; this is not to be the concentration of our mind. The kingdom of God (and working for the Kingdom) must be the focus of our whole being.

            The temptation we face is not to forget God completely. Often, we are tempted to think of God only half of the time, and to give him only half of our heart, half of our soul, half of our mind, and the other half is for ourselves: for our plans and projects, interests and ambitions; for our own wants and needs, desires and greed; for our own enjoyment and entertainment.

            By convincing us to give only half of what we are supposed to give God, the devil is even making us feel good, not feeling guilty, that at least we are still thinking of God half of the time. If we are going to be totally honest with ourselves,  we will see that, indeed, we give God only half – in fact, much less than half – of our time and energy, of our heart and soul and mind.

            Nothing must be allowed to rival God in our love or diminish our love for him. We must be willing to lose everything, even our lives, rather than displease God or displace him from our lives. We must desire everything that brings us closer to God and renounce everything that leads us away from him.

            Loving God with all our might is the greatest Commandment, in part, because unless we do so we cannot also love our neighbor. Love of neighbor hinges on whether we love God with our whole being. Only when you love God can that love overflow into other relationships. It can overflow into your marriage and make you the best husband or wife God wants you to be – the most loving espouse you can be. It can overflow into our friendships and make you the best friend that you can be to your friends – the most loving friend you can be – and in turn, help your friends be the best persons God wants them to be. It can overflow into your relationship with your neighbor – helping you to reach out to others in love and humble service.

            To love God and to love one’s neighbor is not the result of any method. It comes from the realization that it is God who loved us in the past and who continues to love us today. Once we experience and appreciate God’s love for us, we are enabled to love God and our neighbor. God simply loves us without expecting anything in return. God’s love is not based on any qualification we think we can boast of. God’s love – selfless and unconditional – is the kind of love we can learn to accept and give back in return.

            “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”        

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