Home
Up
January 1979
February 1979
March 1979
April 1979
May 1979
June 1979
July 1979
August 1979
September 1979
October 1979
November 1979
December 1979
 

November 1979

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. (Mark 12:30)

Perhaps these words seem to express a level of commitment, so far from the reality of life, that you have come to think of them as addressed to someone with a particular vocation, like men and women who feel the call to consecrate themselves entirely to God.

But this is not so.

These words are found at the beginning of the Law that God gave to all of the Hebrew people. Jesus uses them in response to a Scribe - someone expert in questions of the Law - who asked him what was the first and greatest commandment. So these words are applicable to everyone, without exception, and therefore to you!

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.

Jesus does not use the word 'heart' in the way that we would use it today. He uses it in the biblical sense of the word, which expresses the most profound reality of the human person. To 'love the Lord your God with all your heart' means to turn the whole of your being and all your actions towards God, in an outburst of love.

So the expression, 'love the Lord your God with all your heart’, should be enough. However, in order to explain it better, the Gospel adds, 'with all your soul', which is to say, with all your life; and it adds, 'with all your mind', which includes your thinking and your intelligence; and finally, 'with all your strength', which comprises the sum total of your energies. These words do not emphasise the diversity of human faculties. Instead they insist on he unity of the thing that is important, which is to love God with all your heart, i.e. with all your being.

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.

In the Bible loving God is never seen merely as a sentiment or an abstract idea. It means much more. It means listening to God and to putting into practice his words that call us to serve him and our neighbours. In his reply to the Scribe, Jesus adds that the second commandment is the love of your neighbour, and that these two commandments sum up all the other commandments.

So love for God does not pull someone out of this world or leave them isolated in a personal devotion. Quite the opposite: it is an overflowing spring, a stimulus that drives them onwards to love all people without exception. Only with this, as the unique guarantee, can a society be constructed in which people are really respected. Only God, the Father of all people who are consequently brothers and sisters, can be the basis for equality of people and the dignity of individuals.

Take away this foundation and humanity becomes racist. The human personality is trodden underfoot in one way or another. Hatreds and divisions grow between classes, superiors and inferiors, rich and poor, black and white, men and women, slave and free, bourgeois and proletariat, etc.

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.

With all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. That seems to be an exclusive love, but if you love God, you will also love your family, because he wants you to. If you love God you will love your friends and colleagues because they are the brothers he has put beside you. If you love God, you will love your vocation or your job, because this is the road prepared by his love for you. If you love God you will love your studies because you want to prepare yourself for the plan that God has prepared for your life. If you love God you will love sport and recreation because you know that God wants you to take care of your health. Only by loving in this way can your heart be kept from being divided and your love from being only a half measure.

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.

If God is loved with the whole heart, he must be the Ideal of your life.

Is that the case? Is God the centre of your thoughts? Is God the reason for your existence? Is God the ground of your being? Is God at the root of all your consolation? Is God the friend who shares your most intimate conversation?

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.

Those who love God bear witness to him, and it is easy to discover him through their lives.

This is what happened to Heidi, a Swiss University student, who was hitch hiking across Europe to attend a Christian convention in Assisi.

All she could remember about her family was misunderstanding, quarrels, and confrontations. One day, things reached such a pitch that she and her mother came to blows. Her only refuge was to hide herself in her room or run away.

Sometimes a quiet voice called her to pray, but the spirit of rebellion very effectively suppressed it and the atheistic ideas that she had assimilated and had at last led her to a complete rejection of God. Heidi flung herself into enjoying life, exploiting her friends. But not even drugs could fill the void in her existence. Now here she was, thrown among a people who were strangely different. She asked herself how it came about that all their faces seemed so harmonious and beautiful, and what was the origin of the sense of peace which penetrated her spontaneously? She discovered their secret: they loved God and had chosen him as the ideal of their lives.

Heidi felt the compassion of God coming to meet her, stretching out his hand: yes, she too could love God. She wanted to stake everything on him. Now everything had changed, particularly relations with her family. Heidi knew what the love of God asked of her, and after 19 years she wrote a letter of reconciliation to her parents. And towards her friends? She would love them all with a new and pure heart, for God. Soon, for Heidi too, the words had meaning:

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.

 Chiara Lubich

 

Contributions towards the cost of publishing the Word of Life may be sent to:
Word of Life, 50 Dafforne Road, London, SW17 8TZ, UK., or
Word of Life, Ardmory, 30 Langside Drive, Glasgow, G43 2QQ. UK.

The Word of Life is published by the Focolare Movement