31st Sunday - Homily
The greatest commandment is the easiest. Jesus tells us that the greatest commandment is to “love the lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and all your strength”. It is the easiest commandment… to pay lip service to. I think we all agree with Jesus that this is the love we are to have for God. He has given us life; He has given us everything we have. But, there is some kind of disconnect between what we know and how we live. Whatever the reason - maybe we don’t think it’s possible to love God with all whole selves, we never get around to doing it, or we’re afraid – how many of us love God in this way? Do we love things or people like we should love God? Are there other things or people that we love more than God?
I’ll give a few examples. Now, the first one I will toe the line with because I’m a huge Redskins fan! If we see how some people treat going to a NFL stadium on a Sunday in the Fall, it’s like they’re going to a cathedral! They gladly spend several hours in devotion of their team. It’s like this is their Church, and they are there to worship their god. Even I know that God comes first, especially on Sundays; everything else comes second, even the Redskins.
Some people love money and possessions with their whole beings. They spend so much of their time accumulating money and the latest gadgets or toys, and then spend the rest of their time enjoying them. They have a great devotion to the things of the world…the devotion they’re supposed to have for God. Money can be a false god, as we all know. But, what about people…can we treat people as false gods? Yes, we can put people on pedestals, and idolize them and adore them as we should adore Christ. We can love creatures with the love we should have for the Creator. God is calling us to love HIM with all of our hearts, minds, souls, and strengths. But, how do we love Him in those ways?
How do love God with all our hearts? We give our hearts to Him….a conversion of our hearts. We turn away from the things of the world…we turn away from sin, and turn back to Him who made us. He becomes # 1 in our lives. Our passions and desires are for what is good and true.
How do we love God with all our minds? We open ourselves to His Truth…to the Truth. We get on board with the Truth. We acknowledge that we He has taught us about Himself, ourselves, and life is true; and it is what is best for us. We accept that everything He has revealed in Sacred Scripture and in the Tradition of our faith is true, and we follow it. We follow His teachings, and the teachings of His Church.
How do we love God with all our souls? We continually go to receive His Grace, His life. We remain in constant friendship with Him; not only staying in a state of Grace, but growing in Grace with His help. We regularly receive the Grace of the Eucharist and Confession, receiving the Blessed Sacrament at least once a week, and going to Confession at least a few times a year (ideally, once a month).
How do love God with all our strengths? We become men and women of prayer. The Mass is the greatest prayer – we come here every Sunday with our kids / our families; that is non-negotiable. Outside of Mass, we can make a visit to a chapel or Church, and spend time in prayer with Christ. We can pray at home, at work, in the car, or on a walk. God becomes our strength. He becomes our life.
When we have experienced God’s love, then we have experienced the greatest love on Earth. We realize that loving God with our whole selves makes us happiest, and brings us the most peace. No other person or thing can love us like God does. He has created us, and knows everything about us. When we have experienced this love, it naturally leads us to share with others that love. We want what’s best for them, and want them to experience His love. Thus, we love our neighbor as ourselves.
God has such a great love for each one of us. An intense, deep love. He calls each one of us to return that love to Him. Christ doesn’t say, ‘love God with your whole being’ and then leave us. He gives us the Grace to do it. He gives us the Grace to love God with all our hearts, all our minds, all our souls, all our strengths, and to love our neighbor as ourselves.