This past Sunday, the first reading at Mass was from the Book of Deuteronomy. Moses said to the people,
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD; and you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might” (6:4-5).
In the Gospel, we heard Jesus echo the words of Moses. Jesus said,
“The first [commandment] is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:29-31).
What does it mean to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength?
Because this is the first and greatest commandment, it’s essential that we understand what it means and what God is asking of us. The Lord wants us to give ourselves to Him – our whole selves. He wants us to go to Him, no matter what situation or shape we are in. He wants us to speak to Him when our lives are going well, and we’re feeling happy, content and peaceful.
He also wants us to speak to Him when our lives do not appear to be going well, and we’re feeling upset, discontent and frustrated. God wants us to give Him our struggles and burdens, whatever they may be. Whether we are experiencing illness, financial difficulties, marital or relationship problems, or the loss of a loved one, we must go to Him with everything that we are thinking and feeling.
If we are struggling with temptation or sin, we must go to Him immediately. Sometimes people feel ashamed and afraid to approach God when they fall or when life is messy, but that is when we need Him the most!
God is present in every aspect of our lives; He is even present in the unpleasant and challenging circumstances. The Lord desires to help us through these situations; He does not want us to hide from Him and try to handle them on our own. (He sees everything, so there’s no point in trying to avoid Him anyway.)
When we go to God, He meets us right where we are and provides whatever we need at that time. Sometimes He resolves our problems, and other times He gives us the graces necessary to endure the hardships.
I receive a daily email from ‘America Needs Fatima’ with a Catholic quote. On September 9th, I received this:
Although God demands a whole heart, He will accept a broken one if He gets all the pieces.
When I first read the quote, it resonated with me even though I didn’t fully understand it. After reading it a few times, I asked God for clarity. This past Sunday, while I was listening to the readings and the priest’s homily, I was reminded of the quote. The Lord heard my prayer and provided the clarity I had asked for two months ago…
We are called to give the Lord everything that is inside of us – our happiness, gratitude, pain, sufferings, sadness, hopes, longings, anxieties, insecurities, frustrations, and brokenness. God does not expect us to be “perfect” before we go to Him (if that were the case, then we could only approach Him once we’re in heaven).
God wants us to be honest and transparent in our relationship with Him. He expects us to love Him as much as we are able to. We must acknowledge our imperfections; however, we must not let them keep us from approaching Him and receiving His perfect love!
The saints knew this “secret” and allowed God into every aspect of their lives. They were not perfect while living on earth; they were human just like you and me. They became saints because they gave their whole selves to the Lord; they did not try to hide anything from Him. They loved Him each day with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength.
When they fell and committed sin, they got up and returned to Him in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. They persevered through every trial and tribulation because they fully relied on God, not on their own strength or abilities. We are called to follow their example and do the same.
Each of us has our own unique relationship with the Lord. We cannot compare ourselves to others because we cannot fully know what’s in a person’s heart, soul or mind – only God knows.
It may seem that a person loves God more (or less) than another, but that’s impossible to determine.
It may seem that someone doesn’t love Him enough, but maybe that person is giving all that they can. It may seem that someone loves Him more than you do, but maybe that person is holding back and is capable of loving even more.
One must focus on their own relationship with the Lord and love Him as much as they are able to in each moment.
The next time you approach God in prayer, don’t hold anything back! Be honest, open, and give Him everything that’s inside of you.
Don’t be afraid to reveal yourself to the Lord. He will never abandon, betray or reject you. His love for you will never diminish or disappear. He will meet you right where you are and continue to love you completely and unconditionally.
Remind yourself of this truth often, and go to Him.
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” ~ Jesus