(Pharisee): Which commandment in the law is the greatest?’ [Jesus] said to him, ‘”You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Matt. 22:36-39 (NRSV)
I am a part-time religion and ethics teacher at a local parochial school. I am always amazed at the clarity children desire regarding assignments. “Pen or pencil, one page or two, wide or narrow margins, font size, and can we include art?” are big concerns. They want to get it right. In fact, they sometimes appear more concerned about the rules than the content! That’s the feeling I get from the Pharisees. “Just give me a list of things you want me to do so I can check off the box!” they seem to say.
Jesus’ response is not what they were expecting. AND, the box he presents them to check off is so BIG! How can I love God with all my heart, soul and mind to say nothing of loving my neighbors and myself?
I have sort of a hit or miss love affair with Jesus. The interruptions in communitcation are on my side of the conversation. I’m blessed to have some great triggers though that put me back into a space of grace. I try to use them as often as I can – they’re more effective when they are established in my heart, soul and mind. I’ll tell you what they are: pipe organ music, gospel music with a heavy, heavy left hand, Fauré’s Requiem Mass, raking leaves, Muir Woods, Mercy Center’s Chapel in Auburn, a slow meal with a good friend mulling over whether Jesus was “begotten” or “made”, listening to Canon Carey either reading the laments during the Tenebre service or praying the Psalms, taking digital pictures. This is an odd list to be sure, but they work.
What works for you? I’m convinced that if you’re doing what you love, you’ll be more disposed to loving all that is around you. May Advent be a time of discovery of what draws you close to the heart of God. Amen