Which is the first of all commandments?
In this week’s Gospel, when asked, “Which is the greatest of all commandments?”, Jesus quotes from Deuteronomy, the Shema (a prayer recited twice daily by faithful Jews) “Hear O Israel! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength” and immediately adds from Leviticus “Love your neighbor as yourself.” The simplicity of this command is startling to those who want a checklist of ‘do this’ or ‘don’t do that’ in order to go to heaven…Today most Christian denominations consider these 2 commandments to be the cornerstone of our Christian lifestyle.
Jesus says “LOVE”. Love God; Love your Neighbor. There are few things so universal and yet so challenging for us to live. Where and how do we begin to live out this all-consuming love for God?
Loving with all my: HEART ~ Am I willing to accept and believe He is my greatest treasure? Do I have God at the center of my life? Do I value my relationship with Him, with Jesus, more than anything else in my life? From our hearts “flow the springs of life” (Proverbs 4:23) and with our desires, passions, affections, and thoughts rightly aligned, we begin to live the life of love.
Loving with all my: SOUL: The soul is who you are. This means loving God will all that I am. We love God with our passions, hungers, thoughts. We are also to love Him with how we talk; how we use our talent; what we do with our hands; how we react to challenges; how we welcome others – our entire being is to display and show that we love God.
Loving with all my: MIGHT/STRENGTH: Strength is love in action. After checking out a few other translations, interestingly, the Greek translation for the word is “power” and the Aramaic translation is “wealth”. This points us in the direction to recognize all that we have is for honoring God – our resources, families, pets, homes, clothing, cellphones, music, all that we have been given.
Loving with all my: MIND: Loving God with our intellect, knowledge, and understanding. This kind of love can mean that every window of our lives needs to be opened for cleaning and every relationship will be influenced by this love. This call to love God in this way destroys any option of being one person at church and a different person on a date. What you do on the internet needs to be as pure as what you say to your grandmother. The way we talk to our parents and spouses and friends, needs to be as wholesome as the way we talk to our priests.
There needs to be an authentic love for God that starts with God-oriented affections, desires, thoughts, that permeates our speaking and behavior, influences the way we spend money, how we dress, drive, and accept others. The way we can adequately express our love for God is in the love we extend to our neighbor, and to do so is the beginning of the Kingdom of God on earth. Love God; Love your Neighbor.
Mickey Holtz, Director of Youth Ministry