TO LOVE God with all your heart mind and soul and your neighbour as yourself is as simple and as hard as it gets. All else is window dressing. This is a mission statement of morality and spirituality. It is the task of a lifetime.
Note the priority – God, then neighbour, then self, and the importance of the word ALL in relation to God and at the word AS between neighbour and self. God alone is worthy of all our love, and other loves or lesser loves are on the context of this complete gift of self – heart, soul, mind and strength.
St Augustine said ‘love God and then do what you will’.
It is more than a statement of intent; it is a way of life of striving to more fully appreciate what this love entails in practical living out and decision making, even to the tiniest details. St Therese said that in the heart of the Church she would be love, and she also taught us to do the ordinary things with great love.
To love and to be loved, as I have often said before, are the two great joyful discoveries awaiting each person. We are fortunate indeed if we discover these truths early. Many psychological and emotional disturbances occur in those who have not yet discovered the fact that they are unconditionally loved, and that this love can never be taken away no matter what happens to us; and that they are lovable, warts and all. Many childhood experiences and the trials of life prevent us from reaching this state of tranquillity and acceptance readily.
We are never going to be happy if we decide to live in splendid isolation, although we might want to choose to be; nor are we destined to eke out ‘lives of quiet desperation’. Love does not have to be affective, or erotic, but the emotional thrill of love must be experienced at least once in one’s lifetiome to believe in love, and to begin to appreciate the higher loves – of God, of sacrifice, or striving to live out love, and to be IN LOVE WITH CHRIST, not just ‘to love Him’ as a banal statement of intent. The great definition of love is to be found in St Paul in 1 Cor 13: Love is patient and kind and so on.
If this love is not experienced, love is sought in vain self-centredness, also called narcissism after the mythological figure of Narcisssus who fell in love with his own reflection in a pool and drowned in the attempt to attain embrace with self. The pain of self-destructive behaviours associated with addictions and impulse control issues to do with reckless eating, drinking, gambling, drug-taking, even shopping, are hugely damaging to self and are acts of self-hate. True self-love or self-regard is found in self-surrender to God AND others. We must completely surrender – and pray and say out loud often – to God that we choose to accept Jesus Christ as our PERSONAL Lord and Saviour – completely, whatever the consequences, whatever the change required of us. Our lives change drastically and we see others in a new light – that others are struggling too, and that they will not find happiness without a personal encounter with Christ Jesus our Lord.
The concern then for others – called service - distracts us from self-pity and over-analysis, and we begin to see how we are gifts FOR others and we need to CONSUME ourselves for others.
It is a love we want to share. There is a whole world out there of people waiting to be listened to, whose problems we may not be able to solve, but who wish to unburden themselves. They are eager to hear Good News in a world of fear, pain and heartache.
Let us pray for those who dedicate their whole lives, who spend themselves for others for the sake of the Gospel so that the love of Christ may be preached, heard and experienced ion all His richness. In giving may we too receive, and may we once more appreciate in our own lives ‘the difference Christ makes.’ Amen
Posted by FrJohnCobh