Home
Up
January 1996
February 1996
March 1996
April 1996
May 1996
June 1996
July 1996
August 1996
September 1996
October 1996
November 1996
December 1996
 

October 1996

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. (Matt. 22:37)

Perhaps these very challenging words that demand your all are so far from the reality of your life that you think they are meant only for people with a particular vocation, such as men and women who feel called to give themselves completely to God.

But it is not like this.

These words are found at the beginning of the Law which God had given to the entire Hebrew nation (cf. Deut. 6:5), and they were repeated by Jesus in answering a Pharisee, an expert in the Law, who asked him which was the greatest commandment.

So they are words that apply to all people, men and women, without exception, and therefore to you too.

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

Jesus does not use the word 'heart' with the meaning that we give it today. He uses it in a biblical way, as a term that expresses the deepest reality of the human person. 'To love God with all our heart' means to direct all of our being and actions towards God in an outpouring of love.

The words 'You shall love the Lord with all your heart' would therefore be enough, but to explain it better, the Gospel adds 'with all your soul', which means our life, and 'with all your mind', which includes thought and intelligence. These words are not so much a reference to different human faculties as an emphasis on the one important thing, which is to love God with all our being.

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

In the Bible, loving God is never considered as purely a feeling or something abstract. Rather, it means listening to the Lord and putting into practice his words, which invite us to serve him and others. Jesus himself, in answering the Pharisee, goes on to say that the second commandment, after this first one, is love of neighbour, in which all the other commandments are summed up.

Love of God, therefore, does not withdraw us from the world, and does not isolate us in a personal devotion. Rather, it is the constant wellspring and incentive urging us to love all people without exception. Hence, it is the only sure way of creating a society where the person is truly respected. If fact, God, the Father of all of us brothers and sisters, is the foundation of the equality and dignity of each human being.

Remove this foundation and humanity becomes racist, people's personalities are crushed; hatreds and divisions develop between superiors and inferiors, rich and poor, black and white, men and women, and so on.

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

With all your heart, all your soul, all your mind...

It seems to be an exclusive love, but if you love God, you will love your relatives too, because God wants you to. If you love God you will love your friends and colleagues, because they are brothers and sisters whom he has placed beside you. If you love God you will love your profession, your job, because they are the paths prepared for you by his love; if you love God you will love your studies because you will want to prepare yourself for the plan that God has for your life; if you love God, you will love sport and recreation because you know that God wants you to look after your health.

Only by loving like this will your heart not be divided and your love not have half-measures.

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

If God is to be loved with all your heart, he must be the ideal of your life:

  • Is it so?
  • Is God the centre of your thoughts?
  • Is God your reason for living?
  • Is God in the depth of your being?
  • Is God the source of your consolation?
  • Is God the friend with whom you have your most intimate conversations?

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

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

This is what happened to Heidi, a Swiss university student, during a trip through Europe that brought her to a Christian meeting in Assisi.

Of her home life she remembered only lack of understanding, quarrels and insults. One day, in exasperation, she had even hit her mother. The only refuge left to her was her own room, or else she had to get out of the house. At times a subtle voice invited her to pray, but this was soon stifled by her rebellious spirit and the atheistic ideas she absorbed, to the point of completely rejecting God. Heidi flung herself into 'enjoying life' using her friends. Even drugs could not fill the emptiness within her.

But then, at the congress, she met those people who were strangely different. She asked herself why their faces all appeared harmonious and beautiful, and where the sense of peace that was spontaneously drifting over her came from. She discovered their secret: they loved God; they had chosen him as the ideal of their lives. Heidi felt God's mercy reaching out to meet her. Yes, she too could love God. She decided to risk everything for him.

Then everything changed. First of all, her relationship with her family. Heidi understood what God's love wanted of her and, after many years, she wrote to her parents and was reconciled with them. And what of her friends? She loved them all with a new and pure heart, for God. Now Heidi too lives the words:

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

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