Loving with all your heart
One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him, "Which is the first of all the commandments?" Jesus replied, "The first is this: Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, 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." The scribe said to him, "Well said, teacher. You are right in saying, 'He is One and there is no other than he.' And 'to love him with all your heart, with all your understanding, with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself' is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices." And when Jesus saw that he answered with understanding, he said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." And no one dared to ask him any more questions.
Loving with all your heart
In the movie, Meet Joe Black, the character played by Anthony Hopkins is facing death. He is a very wealthy man with beautiful daughters, getting ready for his birthday. There is a splendid dialogue with his daughter while in the helicopter on the way to his birthday party. William Parrish asks his daughter about her fiancé. He doubts that she really loves him. After asking her why she wants to marry him, he gives some advice. “Find someone you can love like crazy and who will love you the same way back… Listen to your heart… ‘Cause the truth is, honey, there’s no sense living your life without this. To make the journey and not fall deeply in love, well, you haven’t lived a life at all.” He invites her to seek passionate love and wants her to take the risk, even though she is afraid of not finding true love.
Our problem is that we watch movies with our hearts and read the Gospel as if it is a collection of dead letters. We long for a love that fills our hearts, but we do not take the risk with God. We look for love in all the wrong places, forgetting that the Author of love is waiting for us every single day. We are to love God “with all our heart, with all our understanding, and all our strength,” but we fail to take this very seriously.
The scribe of today’s Gospel was on the right track. Jesus praises him. Many of us are also on the right track. We can become discouraged because we feel that our religion is relegated to a corner of our lives. We feel unable to place God truly in the center of our lives. So we maintain appearances and go to church, but we have a gnawing feeling inside that something is missing. We don’t want to say anything, because somehow that seems improper.
The scribe in the Gospel took a risk. He approached Jesus and asked him, “what is the secret of happiness?” It takes on different words because of the historical context. But this is the question that is burning inside him. It is a question that haunts us as well. We want to be happy. But happiness seems elusive, beyond our grasp. Is happiness even possible? We see so many unhappy people. There are so many promises of happiness, but they seem so empty in the end. The only path to happiness is love that takes over our lives. We can find that love in Jesus.
The truest answer to the question is simply “Follow Me.” Jesus is able to say this, because he is the ultimate happiness we could ever desire. Following Jesus changes every aspect of our existence.
What do we do if we are not there yet? We enjoy the journey. This life is often about the journey. The end destination is heaven, but each of us has still a long way to go. That is OK. Jesus is waiting at the end. Take a risk and try to love Jesus with everything in you. “Who knows? Lightning could strike.”
We can have three key takeaways.
1. The scribe already knew the answer to his question. We often carry within ourselves the answers to the questions we are asking.
2. All we need is love. The trick is knowing who and how to love.
3. Jesus is worth taking a chance. Trust in him and put yourself out there.
Write a love letter to Jesus. Write down your dreams and fears, your weaknesses, and your strengths. Write to him and ask for help in growing in personal security and place yourself entirely in his hands.