“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 12:29-31).
How do we actually live out this great commandment given to us by Jesus? How do we love God that we cannot see?
Our first step is to understand better the love that Jesus is talking about. St Thomas Aquinas teaches us that to love, is to will the good of the other. This is more than an emotion or a feeling. To love means to accompany, encourage, and be present to one another. The love that God offers us is unconditional, it is about service and sacrifice.
Jesus doesn’t just want us to maintain the Church, our family, our friends, or our ourselves, he has always called us to be a missionary Church, to go out from ourselves and love others as he loves us.
Many inside and outside of the Church have been wounded, yet her heartbeat is strong, because the lifeblood that flows through her veins comes from her Son, Jesus the Christ. So many of our brothers and sisters are walking away from the Church, but her children still hunger to be loved and to love, they still hunger to belong, to be a part of who God has created them to be. They have a curiosity and desire to learn and they want to know, to have their questions answered, and to find meaning and fulfillment.
If we are to be of help to others, we start by saying yes to the invitation of Jesus to receive the love of his Father. We are to kneel in his presence, sit at his feet, and allow the transforming love of the Holy Spirit to conform and shape us, to sculpt us in love. At the same time, we are called to learn and know our faith, recognizing that our belief is grounded in both faith and reason, so that we can share who we are as a child of God, and what we have learned with others with love, with joy, even in the midst of scandal and crisis. This is not a time to run away, but to stand up for what we believe in, to show, through our own life and commitment, that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.
Jesus Christ is the center of the Church. He is present in the Word proclaimed, in his Body and his Blood that we receive, in the Sacraments, and he is present in each and every one of us. If we are struggling to see or experience God, the best way to begin is to reach out toward another in loving service.
We are brothers and sisters in Jesus. We hunger and crave to belong to God and one another, whether we are aware of this hunger and thirst consciously or unconsciously, and this is true for the atheist as well as the mystic alike. Jesus invites us to be his disciples and we do so by loving God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind, and with all our strength, and by loving our neighbor as ourself.
Being a disciple of Jesus is about surrendering ourselves to the love of God, embracing and being conformed by his loving hands. We are then to share his love and joy with others through invitation, hospitality, welcoming, and meeting our brothers and sisters where they are, as they are, and accompanying, convicting not condemning, empowering, loving and protecting one another.
Even people who don’t practice a faith or have lost their faith, still feel the need to connect with God and find purpose to their lives. I invite you to receive and meditate on this message I now share with you today. Then share it with someone:
God loves you more than you can ever mess up. God helps you to see and know that you are not defined by your worst choices or mistakes. God loves you more than you can ever imagine. Then share a smile, even while wearing a mask because the eyes smile. In that very simple act of a smile, we are saying you matter to me, you have dignity, you are important, have value, and I love you.
Photo: Share a smile today – photo credit: Jack McKee