Friday of the Third Week of Lent
(Hosea 14:2-10; Mark 12:28-34)
The First Letter of John seems to hint that we can only love God by loving our neighbor. Jesus, however, in today’s gospel does not compress love of God into love of neighbor. Quite the contrary, he prescribes a robust regimen for loving God. He says that we are to love Him with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and all our strength. How are we to accomplish all these practices?
In loving God with our whole heart we do not give attention to anything that will lead us away from Him. We do not look at pornography or engage in gossip, for example. Loving God with our whole soul means to love Him fully emotionally. We desire to be with Him and express our joy in His presence. Practically it means to carry on continual conversation with God in prayer. When we study Scripture and theology, we love God with all our mind. Finally, in making significant sacrifices for God’s sake we love God with all our strength. Perhaps in today’s contraceptive culture, the young couple who practices Natural Family Planning if they cannot afford to have more children well exemplifies a strong love for God.
Jesus tells the scribe who endorses his principal commandments that he is “not far from the Kingdom of God.” He is not in the Kingdom yet because he has to act on what he acknowledges to be true. Nevertheless, knowing what must be done is an important step to doing it.