The unity of God — the truth that he is one God, Father, Son, and Spirit — means that we must love him with one love, a love that serves him with all our hearts and minds, souls, and strength.
We love him because he has loved us first. We love our neighbor because we can’t love the God we haven’t seen unless we love those made in his image and likeness, whom we have seen (see 1 John 4:19–21).
And we are called to imitate the love that Christ showed us in laying his life down on the cross (see 1 John 3:16). As we hear in today’s Epistle, by his perfect sacrifice on the cross, he once and for all makes it possible for us to approach God.
There is no greater love than to lay down your life (see John 15:13). This is perhaps why Jesus tells the scribe in today’s Gospel that he is not far from the kingdom of God.
The scribe recognizes that the burnt offerings and sacrifices of the old Law were meant to teach Israel that it is love that he desires (see Hosea 6:6). The animals offered in sacrifice were symbols of the self-sacrifice, the total gift of ourselves that God truly desires.
We are called today to examine our hearts. Do we have other loves that get in the way of our love for God? Do we love others as Jesus has loved us (see John 13:34–35)? Do we love our enemies and pray for those who oppose and persecute us (see Matthew 5:44)?
Let us tell the Lord we love him, as we do in today’s Psalm. And let us take his word to heart, that we might prosper and have life eternal in his kingdom, the heavenly homeland flowing with milk and honey.
Scott Hahn is founder of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology, stpaulcenter.com.
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