We hear words today in our gospel reading that lots of us
have heard many times before.
"You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart,
with all your soul, and with all your mind;”
love your neighbor as yourself.”
Hearing familiar words like these today reminds me of the
story of an old priest who met a member of his congregation who began to
boast: “Father, I have been through the
gospels many times.” Rather than praise him the priest said gently: “The
important thing is not how often you have been through the gospels but how
often the gospels have been through you.”
The purpose of the gospels that we read each week at Mass
is not to recreate the words and works of Jesus ... but to let them recreate
Earlier in Matthew’s gospel Jesus says something to his
apostles that we need to really contemplate deeply. He said:
“These people have become close-minded and hard of hearing.
They have shut their eyes so that
their eyes never see.
Their ears never hear. Their minds
And they never return to me for
healing!” Matthew 13:15
Sadly ... those words often describe us
We come to church with our ears and eyes so full of the
cares of our world we don’t look or listen deeply with open minds and eager
hearts. Our hearts and minds are so full of our own thoughts and worries that
we don’t really let the words of the Gospels flow through us and change
us. God’ wants this experience we share
each Sunday – this time together – to so
touch our hearts that we are changed by it; recreated in some small way.
Let’s listen again and this time try to hear it and let
it deeply impact our hearts:
"You shall love the Lord,
your God, with all
your heart ...
... your soul ... ... and with all
... your mind.”
“You shall love
your neighbor as you love your very self.
Is this your experience ... ?
Do you really love the Lord God that way?
Does your love for Him consume all of you ... heart ... mind ... and ... soul?
To love God that way, like any loving relationship, requires
spending time with Him – quality time. If you never give God any time, can you really love him
Wouldn't it be transformative if we really lived this
commandment? To "love the Lord with all our heart, soul and
mind. And, love our neighbor as we love
Jesus placed love of neighbor alongside love of God for a
reason, because he knows that they are completely linked. God can feel so distant that he’s hard to
love that is why he gave us each other.
There is a story about a young woman who was in great
distress because she had lost a sense of God in her life. She complained to her elderly grandmother,
“Why doesn't God let me feel His presence? If only I could feel Him and know
that He has touched me.” Her grandmother
said, “Pray to God, right now. Close
your eyes and pray to him. Ask Him to
put out his hand and touch you.” The
girl closed her eyes and prayed fervently.
Then she felt a hand on her hand.
“He touched me. He touched me,”
she cried out. Then she said, “You know,
his hand felt just like your hand.” “Of
course it was my hand,” her grandmother said.
“That’s how God works. He takes
the hand that is nearest and uses that.”
Loving God and loving our neighbors are completely
connected. That’s why Jesus answered the
man’s question, that day, the way he did. Jesus knows the best way to connect to
God, to love God, is to love someone. And the
truth is we cannot truly love our neighbor apart from loving God. We cannot separate the two. We show our love for God, by the way we love
our neighbor. "What you did for the least of mine you did for me," God said. And
in the end that’s all that really matters.
Any of us who have had the privilege to be at the bedside
of someone in their final moments, when they stand on the edge of eternity, know
that you will never hear someone say, “Bring me my diplomas! I want to look at
them one more time. Show me my awards, my medals, that gold watch I was
given.” When life on earth is ending people
don’t surround themselves with objects.
What we want around us is people – people we love – and have
relationships with. In our final moments we all realize that relationships are what
life is all about. Love is all that matters in the end.
This is what Jesus is really saying to us today. He is
saying: Do you know that nothing
you do in this life will
ever matter unless it is about loving God, and loving the people he has
Today let’s all allow these words about love sink in
Let them go – through us – and change us, recreate us.
And then Jesus can heal us. And, use us to heal others.