Jesus made it clear that it is to love God with all your heart that ranks highest of all the commands. Sometimes, we can find it difficult to know how to love God.
Secondly, as Christians, we have a duty to love one another. Indeed, this was the only commandment that Jesus added to those already in place.
His commandment to love is not an easy feat, but neither is it disconnected to the first commandment to love God. And it is in this way that we learn to know how to love God.
We love God through those we meet, honouring God who is acting and residing in them. If we are asked to see our own selves as temples of God, then we should be thinking of others in the same way, not only as receptors of God’s love, but as opportunities to draw closer to our Creator.
We should never lose sight of what Jesus said: that we should love others as we do ourselves. Many of us do not love ourselves, choosing self deprecation over self glory. Indeed, mamy of us have a warped and unhealthy understanding of self love. The right kind of self-love is not being selfish, but honouring the temple that houses God. So ,whilst we are asked to remain humble and obedient, there is absolutely nothing wrong with looking after ourselves, taking care of ourselves, and being gentle on ourselves when times are tough. After all, if we cannot do this, then how are we going to learn to bestow love upon others?
Love, then, is not easy. We are asked to love ourselves, to love others and to love God. If we are the ship, then where to we steer? What chart do we use to point the way? Well, ultimately, we learn of God’s love through two fundamental channels: through Scripture, and through our family and loved ones. In terms of the former, then we are in a wonderful position to hear his voice through Scripture today and every day at Mass. The liturgical Year is an unparalleled teacher of the Bible, as it presents to us a rolling story of God’s love year in, year out. In terms of the latter, then we must own the fact that we have a duty to teach love to those close to us, to pass it on. Too many times history has shown us how a widescale dearth of love can impact on entire generations.
And remember, that love is a doing thing, a verb. As the saying goes: ‘Love is as love does.’ When we pray let us thank God for the gift of his love, and ask him that we may come closer to Jesus’s ideal of human love in all that we do and say, especially around those who challenge us or whom we may find difficult to bear.
The Lord be with you.
And with your spirit
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark 12:28-34
Glory to you, O Lord.
One of the scribes came up to Jesus and put a question to him,
‘Which is the first of all the commandments?’
‘This is the first: Listen, Israel, the Lord our God is the one Lord, and you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength.
The second is this: You must love your neighbour as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.‘
The scribe said to him,
‘Well spoken, Master; what you have said is true: that he is one and there is no other. To love with all your heart, with all your understanding and strength and to love your neighbour as yourself, this is far more important than any holocaust or sacrifice.’
Jesus, seeing how wisely he had spoken said,
‘You are not far from the kingdom of God.’
And after that no one dared to question him any more.
The Gospel of the Lord.
Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.