Some years ago, I read a magazine article that had surveyed people and asked them to give examples of how they showed their love for God. Almost every answer pointed to the second great commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves. “I show my love for God by giving to the poor,” or “I show my love for God by volunteering at a soup kitchen once a month.” The author of the article commented that while all of the deeds that were mentioned were in themselves good, none of the answers spoke of concrete behaviors that exemplified loving God with “with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.”
However, the truth of the matter is that we show our love for God in the very same ways that we show our love for any other person, and in particular for the person who is closest to us. Pope Benedict XVI made this point in his encyclical on “Love.” Just as people in love with one another have to spend time with one another, so we need to spend time with God. Just as people in love with one another have to make sacrifices for each other, so we must make sacrifices for God. People who love one another take others into consideration when they make decisions. We must do the same in our relationship with God. If we hurt someone we love, we must ask forgiveness. We must also ask pardon of God.
The apostle James wrote that good works are signs of faith. They can be conscious acts of love for our neighbor as well. However, when we speak of loving God with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and all our strength, we must love God as a person, as a significant other. God has loved us. We must love God in return.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator