31st Sunday in Ordinary Time: Love the Lord
You cannot love someone you don’t know, someone you’ve never met, someone you refuse to come to, or someone you keep out of your life. There were twenty years during which time I never loved my wife. I confess that to you all. I did not love her at all for twenty years. Not an ounce of love did I have for her. Not an atom, and the reason for that was that I’d never met her. How can you love someone you’ve never heard of? She lived far away from me and our paths never crossed. I was totally loveless towards her. If someone had come to me and announced a name and address and commanded me to love this woman I’d have said, “No. That is only a name on a piece of paper. I don’t even know if she really exists.”
We must know someone if we are to love them. We must know about their character and personality. We must know that they are lovable. Think of the people who fall in love through writing to one another on the Internet. They are drawn together through their self-disclosures. They tell each other about themselves, what they believe in, what their hopes and longings and plans are. They disclose their personalities. They share with each other their lives, and a growing affection develops. Each wants to meet the other; to talk to them on the phone, to hear their voice; to see a picture of them. This is what God has done through his Son Jesus Christ and through his Word. Through the Christ of the Scriptures we can love God.
God must be known in order to be loved; when you discover the true and living God, to know Him is to love Him. That is why I spend my time reminding others about Him: the vastness of His love and measureless mercy to all who cast themselves upon Him. How can you not love Him? What flaw have you found in Him?
There is no adequate reaction to Him except an all-consuming love. It has to be an affectionate love, with all the heart. It must be a sincere love, with all the soul. It must be an intelligent love, with all the mind. It must be an energetic love, with all the strength. It is an all-consuming love.
Love so amazing, so divine demands your soul, your life, your all. You cannot love God moderately. The only fitting response to this prophet and priest and king is to love Him with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. You have to present your bodies as living sacrifices to Him. "Take all of me," you say to the Lord.
It is not about the condition in which you come to Him. You come to Him ordinary, just as you are, as a sinner who needs mercy. But all who’ve truly come to Him and received His grace immediately love Him and grow in loving the Lord more and more, not just a bit of Him, not just for what we can get from Him, not just giving Him a part of our lives and keeping all the rest to ourselves, but loving Him with every part of our beings. And when we fail to do this, as we all do, yet still this is what we desire to do. And by His grace alone, we fulfill this greatest commandment.