Thursday of the Ninth Week of Ordinary Time
The scribe asks which is the first of all the commandments; Jesus says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” In other words? “You shall love God as He loves you: with your whole self.”
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart…” John’s Gospel tells us that God so loved the world He gave His only Son, the treasure of His heart; because of His love for us, God has given us Himself, holding nothing back.
“…with all your soul…” Jesus told His disciples to stay in Jerusalem and await “the promise of the Father.” (Acts 1:4) At Pentecost, they all received the Holy Spirit, the same Spirit we receive in the Sacraments, particularly Confirmation.
“…with all your mind…” Psalm 8:4-6 reads: “When I see your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and stars that you set in place—what is man that you are mindful of him, and a son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him little less than a god, crowned him with glory and honor.” All of creation was made for our sake, and for our sake the Son of God became one of us; since He spoke “Let there be light!” God has had us in mind (Ephesians 1:4); He has even counted the hairs of our head (Luke 12:7), and has known us from before the womb. (Jeremiah 1:5)
“…and with all your strength.” In the Book of Genesis we read of a God who labored six days for our sake, resting on the seventh day. In the Gospels we read of Jesus, who labored—to the point of death, to the harrowing of Hell, and from the grave!—for our salvation. As Christians we believe in a God who is constantly laboring for our good; our God never stops, and all His power is oriented toward our good.
Thus when God demands that we love Him with our whole being we are reminded of what love is: a mutual gift of self. He has given His entire self to us out of love; the proper response, then, is to give of our whole selves. “We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) This is all He wants as the scribe, without realizing it, says when he points out that loving God in this way “…is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” Why? Because God only wants one thing: you.
When we belong entirely to God, when we are consumed, totally, in the fires of His love, or drown in its bottomless, shoreless sea, that is what Heaven is. The Eucharist gives us a foretaste of Heaven, of that complete communion of love God desires to share with us eternally. At the core of our beings we just want God, and so He gives Himself, for He just wants us.
“You are not far from the Kingdom of God,” Jesus says to the wise scribe. Indeed when we truly love God wholly, when we give ourselves fully to the reality of the Eucharist, we aren’t just close to the Kingdom: we are home.