Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind
Who Doesn't Want Love?
Today’s Gospel challenges us about the way we relate to God and to others. It challenges our mindset. We can grasp that it’s good to love God, but why love our neighbour in the same way I love myself? It seems self-defeating. Because Jesus commands us to love in this way do we do it out of a sense of obligation, or is there something we are missing in this legalistic argument?
Similarly, Exodus grapples with issue of justice within our relationships: Don’t oppress strangers, look after widows and orphans, don’t demand too much when you lend money, don’t take peoples stuff if they really need it. If we were to read on, we would find heaps more laws about being good to one another which is unsurprising, since justice is intrinsic to love.
There is also a very interesting statement: “I shall hear their cries” says God – meaning any injustices we inflict on others, are displeasing to God. The question we need to ask here is: If this is ‘hurtful’ to God, is this harmful to us as well as those we are unjust towards? Are our own acts of injustice harming us? For example, if I rip someone off, is this harming me? We know the answer is yes, but why?
Loving the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind is the greatest and the first commandment. This commandment opens up a new horizon – it unveils a new possibility to share in a life that is so far greater than our own. This is the Life we are promised in Christ. It is because we all share in God’s Life that we are irrevocably reconciled to each other. We are made one; one Body, one in Spirit. So, I love you not out of obligation, but for my own sake that I may share in Life to the full.
How incredible, but there’s more. I love you (i) in recognition that I am loving my own Body and (ii) in anticipation of being loved back. It’s not self-defeating, but self-enriching.
Let’s get our mind around this. To love another is to truly love my own Life! Therefore, I either choose that Life or choose death. Our acts of injustice towards others leads to our own death. I think that is another compelling reason for us to love both God and neighbour as our self. If we don’t, we alienate our self from Life itself.
I think family members sometimes fall into this trap of alienation, but that’s for family reasons. The thrust of this Gospel is about our expanding our mindset—and our hearts—to embrace Life itself, by embracing the God of Love. And what a joy this is for those who embrace all people in their heart because their Love of God is so expansive. Why not want a heart filled with love? It is self-enriching. And it such hearts that are filled with God’s Love that do care about the cries of our brothers and sisters.
Loving God with all our being expands our heart to love and to care for all. That’s how we should be, because that is the path the happiness and the fulness of life. And who doesn’t want love in their life?