Love of Neighbor Becomes Love of God

The human heart is comprised of four chambers, two upper and two lower. All four chambers must work together in order for the heart to function properly and be healthy.

Jesus tells us in today’s Gospel account that the greatest commandment in the law is, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.” Just as a healthy human heart is dependent upon all of it chambers functioning properly, so a healthy relationship with God is dependent upon a person loving both God and neighbor. One cannot be separated from the other, as love of one’s neighbor is a reflection of how much one truly loves God.

Jesus teaches us how to truly love God. First, with all our heart. The heart is the most profound and most personal part of the human person. It is the core of intimacy. To love God is to enter into a personal relationship with him. Second, with all our soul. The soul is the seat of life and human desire. To love God we must constantly desire him the source of all life, human and divine. Psalm 42 helps us to understand this yearning of the soul as it says, “As the deer longs for streams of water, so my soul longs for you, O God.” To love God we must have active longing for him, for holiness, for righteousness. Those who have this desire burning in their soul shall be satisfied as Jesus promised in the Beatitudes. Three, with all our mind. The mind is the intellectual center of the human person. It is the seat of human thought, will and reason. To love God with our entire mind is to study and understand the truth God revealed in the Sacred Scriptures and to make decisions arising from the will to do good. The more we know of God’s attributes (love, truth, goodness, etc.) the more we love what God loves, and dislike what God dislikes. Four, with all our strength. The strength here represents the physical element of the human person. To love God with all our strength means to use our energy to carry out good actions. God desires that we love him with our entire being, and to take our focus away from the self, the world, our possessions. It requires a personal relationship with God which is deepened through prayer and through his Word, along with being nourished with the sacraments.

When we understand what love of God entails, then love of neighbor follows with relative ease. To love our neighbor means to treat them with the respect and dignity that is theirs, as being created in the image and likeness of God. The Parable of the Good Samaritan is an excellent example of this. The question for us to answer is the one posed in the parable, “And who is my neighbor?” When the attributes of God, as revealed to us by Jesus, are lived in our lives, then our love of neighbor becomes of reflection of our love of God.

- Fr. Dennis, October 25, 2020