August 19, 2022

Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?

I confess that I have always been a bit envious of fellow Christians who can say with equanimity and confidence that they love God or even Jesus Christ. (I don’t know about the Holy Spirit.) I thank God daily for many things. I talk with Jesus often, and sometimes a word comes back. But love God with all my heart, soul, and mind?

I get the “love your neighbor” part. We believe each person is made in the image and likeness of God. However, we too often quibble over who is our neighbor. We recently got Luke’s version of this story. Here, the “scholar of the law” asks: Who is my neighbor? Jesus’ answer makes it quite challenging, though – at least for me.

But the first part of that “great commandment.” What does it mean in the day-to-day practice of loving the Lord our God with all one’s being?

I discovered a way to think about this in Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato si’:

Our insistence that each human being is an image of God should not make us overlook the fact that each creature has its own purpose. None is superfluous. The entire material universe speaks of God’s love, his boundless affection for us. Soil, water, mountains: everything is, as it were, a caress of God. (84)

The universe unfolds in God, who fills it completely. Hence, there is a mystical meaning to be found in a leaf, in a mountain trail, in a dewdrop, in a poor person’s face. The ideal is . . . to discover God in all things. Saint Bonaventure teaches us that “contemplation deepens the more we feel the working of God’s grace within our hearts, and the better we learn to encounter God in creatures outside ourselves.” (233)

There are many ways to love God. How do you?

Let Us Pray:

Give thanks to the Lord for his wondrous deeds. For God has satisfied our longing souls and filled our hungry souls with good things. Give thanks to the Lord; his love is everlasting. (From today’s Psalm 107)


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About Jim Brown

Jim Brown is an Associate of the Blessed Sacrament. He is the former Director of the Center for Eucharistic Evangelizing (CEE) and has worked in a professional capacity for over 30 years with the Congregation. He and his wife live in Cincinnati Ohio.