October 31, 2021 - With All Your Heart - A Reflection on Mark 12:28-34

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 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: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.

The greatest commandments are these: to love God will all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind, and with all our strength; and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. Now if these are the greatest commandments, then what are the greatest sins? Not to love God and not to love neighbor, right? That, itself, makes for some tremendous reflection, but I would like us to reflect upon something else. 

Is it possible to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength? In short, to love God with everything we have? I would have not thought it possible were it not for the fact that God tells us to love him in the manner prescribed, and he wouldn’t tell us to do anything unless it was possible. So, it is possible. The question is: how? 

A few days ago, I spoke about a man called Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection. He served as a lay brother in a Carmelite monastery in Paris and is remembered for the intimacy he expressed concerning his relationship to God as recorded in a book compiled after his death. This book titled, The Practice of the Presence of God, offers some good suggestions on how we can love God with all our being. 

It involves being in the presence of God at all times. Consider this: when you are in deep worship, how often do you find yourself tempted to sin? Seldom, I imagine. Why? Because you are deep in the presence of God. So, what happens when we get out of this state? We return to the world with all its noise and temptation. But what if we could remain in the presence at all times? 

Brother Lawrence discovered he could, and I have discovered that I can too, and it is truly amazing. It takes some practice to remain in the presence of God constantly, but with some patience—and a lot of grace, which flows powerfully if you try doing this—it won’t be long before you can do this. And you will realize that through this process you actually begin to love God with all your heart. 

Pick up a copy of his book if you can. There are free PDFs available online.