B Cycle – 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time 18

MK.12:28b-34

As I hear the first and greatest commandment is to love God with our whole heart, mind and understanding I wonder if my heart can love God as he requires.  I wonder if my mind can be centered on God above all things. I wonder if my understanding is great enough to comprehend fully God’s grace enough to change my desires to satisfy self by seeking the things that capture my attention.   After all, how can we love God if we have never met God or perhaps, we have never met God in the same way we have met a person who captivates us, motivating us to know them better.  Do we spend enough time with the God we are to love completely?

What do we know about God?  If our knowledge of God is only what we have learned about God versus having a relationship with God, then we will never love him as he desires.  Love takes an effort on our part that moves us beyond self to making sure the other know of our love and feels our love and responds to our love.  If God is some distant benevolent figure, we know about but never can relate to then God is no different from the Gandalf we encountered in Lord of the Rings.

Did we court our spouse by some indirect method through a friend as a grammar school kid might bring a note to someone saying we “like then?”  Or did we gather up our courage and ask them if they would like to go someplace where we could have an opportunity to express our deepest feelings to them?  Think back on how love developed in your life and you will see it developed by your giving of yourself and through revealing yourself and them doing the same with you.

Love is direct not indirect, it is personal not impersonal, love makes us vulnerable because we hold back nothing of ourselves when we love.  Our strengths, our weaknesses, our fears, our doubts are there because we cannot love without revealing everything about ourselves and discovering everything about them.  God has revealed his love for us by sending us Jesus Christ and through revealing his plans for us in the scriptures. He offers to reinforce his love by allowing the Holy Spirit to pour his love into our hearts.

God has been trying to catch our attention from the moment we were created.  In my case, it took 35 years before he got my attention.  Looking back, I now see how many times he called me and invited me to the dance but I did not know how to dance so I politely ignored his invitation.  Yet, I envied those who took up the challenge and departed from the routine of going through the motions of a spiritual life to encounter the living God.  How many in our pews today want a love relationship with God?  How many of us can move beyond being polite with God but never accepting the challenge of loving God with our whole heart, mind, strength and soul.

That is a lot to ask of us when we are so faithful in attending mass, giving our tithe and giving of our time to serve in so many ways.  We have found that being in the presence of God like Martha is challenging enough but to sit at his feet and learn to love him is foreign to us.  How can being in the presence of God like Mary be productive in our journey of faith?  Perhaps we should ask ourselves another question.  Can we grow in our love of God by being in the kitchen instead of listening to him tell us how deeply he loves us?

But isn’t our approach to faith lived out by doing something for God rather than being in the presence of God?  We are encouraged by the scriptures to be spiritually mature so why are we still passing notes to God instead of going to God and introducing ourselves?  We will never get to know the depth of God’s love for us by keeping our distance from him.  We would never approach a human relationship by keeping a respectful distance because we know presence is the foundation of loving.

Because God seems distant from us, we have developed artificial ways to get close to God.  Those ways are as impersonal as trying to build a relationship through another person passing notes.  Talking with someone that way is safe, we can protect ourselves and hide the real self from the other.  At some point in time if love is going to grow we must have the courage to meet face to face.  God has been inviting us to that moment constantly but like an grade school relationship we must decide at some point if we trust them enough to talk directly with them.  It is at that point we put aside all other means of communication and sit wiht them and talk and listen as they talk with us.

It is at that point in a relationship the doubts set in.  Do I give up my freedom and begin to do the things they love? Do I dare invite them into my life?  Am I willing to allow them to see me when I am at my worse or without my protective self in place?  After all how do you have a relationship with God when we know how sinful we are and how many times we have failed to be faithful to do simple things we know we should be doing such as pray daily?

We do not need to attend a class on how to relate to God.  He gives us all we need to know through the stories in the scriptures.  We have lesson number one in the story of the woman caught in adultery.  We have lesson number two in the story of the prodigal son.  Lesson three comes from Paul in Romans when he tells us nothing can keep us from the love of God.  Lesson number four comes to us from the mouth of Jesus in the upper room when he tells us we can do nothing apart from him. Yet we live our spiritual lives very much apart from Jesus.  I invite you to take one of the 250 promises of God in the scriptures and listen to God revealing the depth of his love for you in one of those.

Hold one of his promises deep within your heart and your heart will respond to God. My favorites of all his promises is when he said he will never abandon me and how he would change my heart so I can love him with all my being.  If you need a promise from God, use the comment button and tell me what you need most from the God who loves you and I will send you his promise to give you what you need.

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