Sunday October 31, 2021 The Thirty-first Sunday Ordinary Time (Cycle B)
The tie in between today’s readings: Do You Love Me?
“Listen, everyone! I am God, the only God, and I command you to totally love Me”. Wow! Who does God think He is? Run. Jump. Stop. Go. Love! Is love just another verb, an action word of duty, like kiss your smelly Aunt Roberta? Don’t I have a free will in this? Can the Almighty really order me to have affection for Him or direct it to someone else, like my adversarial neighbor, for instance? If you examine today’s reading in Deuteronomy, which is also echoed in the gospel, the answer is yes…in a way. Since love is a command, love therefore, is a commitment to be executed, not an emotion to be expressed. It is an act of my will to do all in my power for another. Hopefully, they would be willing to do the same for me. Fickle sentiments ride in the back. Love here is purposeful, dependable, and vital; a social contract in a religious system where everybody has each other’s back. Sounds great! But even if I may be willing to join in and take the risk in loving my neighbor, how can I love God with all my heart, mind, and strength when I cannot even see Him?
I think, when you’re dealing with the heart, you have to look at it like dating. You can’t love God until you get to know Him. A lot of us have preconceived notions of who God is or what He’s like, with no more validity than a teenage girl dreaming of the perfect guy. This makes God in our image. Lose It! He’s written a book for you to see the kind of personal being that He really is. You’ll discover the genuine love of grace and mercy, of compassion and sacrifice which He’s committed to you (Psalm 18). You’ll find out that He is a God worth loving. Then, when you commit to Him in return, your heart will follow with the emotional rush of a new believer. You will want to be with your Lord in prayer and meditation because He is precious. Where your treasure is, so will your heart be. The beautiful thing is the more you think of God, the more you will desire Him. Pursue Him with all your heart!
Loving God with your mind is a commitment of your soul. It involves personal choices in your lifestyle. It’s like being married: the two become one. You desire to live a life of faithfulness and devotion, forsaking all others and obstacles that get in the way. You want to live obediently, pleasing to Him, and under His guidance. Here you find out that instead of struggling to live a life that is sinless, your dedication to the Lord nurtures you into a life where you sin less. No fake religious airs or pious triteness here. You’re the real deal! That takes strength…yours and His.
Loving God with all your strength is transformative. It’s the tough love that changes you into the image of Jesus. He answers your prayers, but not how you think. He will give you trials to produce patience, broken heartedness for understanding, calamity to cultivate trust, and humiliation to make you great. He breaks you down and gives His Spirit to build you up. He wants you to see what He sees, feel what he feels, and be His hands in this world. You can love you neighbor as yourself, from your very soul, because you have the strength of the Lord, the mind of Christ, and a heart for God.
So why do I want to love God? Is it because if I don’t then He’ll get mad and zap me? Of course not, instead, its’ the fulfillment of life’s purpose. We were made to have a relationship with Him. God’s command for us to love Him drives us in that direction. In fact, if I reject God and choose to live a self-centered life; I am really zapping myself. The real question is not “Do you love God?”, but more like “Are you in love with God?” This love starts with His Son. Do you know Jesus who loved you first, who bore your sins upon a cross, and constantly lives to make intercessions for you to the Father (Hebrews 7)? Have you given your heart to Him? Do you want to be in His word and in prayer more than binge watching Netflix? Have you committed yourself to Him and become one with Him as if you were married? Are you persevering when the going gets tough, for better or for worse? If so, then you have something more precious than gold. If not, then you have some soul searching to do. Don’t delay! For the love of God, it’s important.