“One of the scribes, when he came forward and heard them disputing and saw how well he had answered them, asked him, “Which is the first of all the commandments?” Jesus replied, “The first is this: ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall 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 shall love your neighbor as yourself’……”. Mk. 12:28-31.
They asked Jesus what was the most important commandment. This is a transcendent question because God’s people, between prohibitions and positive precepts, had more than 600 commandments. Jesus synthesizes all of them into two commandments: Love God and your neighbor.
What does it mean to love God with all the heart………? For me it means to recognize who governs your life. If it is the old man, as Paul says, then life will be a quest to possess and seek his own satisfaction trying always to integrate in the family and in all those that surround him his projects and whims. This is not Christian love – it is possessive love that enslaves and does not allow growth. We have to purify our intentions to make sure we keep the Lord as the absolute value in our life, but to have Him as the absolute value in our life we need to first know Him. “Let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God”. 1 Jn. 4:7. We must strive to know the love of God and experience it in our life through the experience of faith in Jesus Christ.
The Lord is the revelation of the Father, “He defines His Father as to what love is”. The obstacles of sin and selfishness are of no matter. God’s love is always there giving and surrendering for you and me. But that love must be manifested to the neighbor. We are by Baptism children of God. This means “that we are the extension of the love of God” which is why we cannot be alien to “our neighbor”, nor to the practice of justice because love is not an emotion. It is a commitment to that other person – the Son of the same Father, the God of love.
Upon receiving the Eucharist I invite you to pray to our loving Father with these beautiful phrases from St. Augustine: Late I loved you, beauty so ancient and so new. Late I loved you and You were inside me”.