Mk 12: 28b-32




In Mark’s Gospel, the scribe is asking Jesus today which of the laws, which of the commandments, is the greatest, the first. The Lord immediately replied: Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself. Of all the laws in Israel, these two can be said to be the “Lord’s choice.”  What does it mean to love? Surely, love is not just an ideal, an abstract thought, a mere sentiment. The “Lord’s choice” provides a guide on how to practice this love. Loving God means to do so with:


ALL YOUR HEART: Love is in fact, symbolized by the heart. This means that when you love it is not superficial, not external, not veneer; love comes from the depths. The one you love occupies a space deep within you. He has a special place in your life. To love God with all your heart means therefore, reserving for him this special place, which no one else can equal or take away. God is not one among many loves, but the most important one, the first one, the central one. God does not ask us to love him alone. We can love other people and other things, but he has to be the first in our heart!


ALL YOUR SOUL: In new translations, this is rendered as “all your being.” And whether it be “soul” or “being,” the fact is neither of these can be expressed in symbol. The soul is immaterial; it cannot be seen, touched or heard. It can be felt through its actions but it cannot be captured. Moreover, the soul is pure, transparent, clean; untainted by matter. Thus to love God with one’s soul means offering him what is most pure, most exalted, most noble in us. It means dedicating to the Lord what is dearest to us, and this is none other than our will. We surrender our will to the Lord.


ALL YOUR MIND: The mind is the seat of the intellect. It is where we store our knowledge, we begin to strategize, to plan, to calculate. Loving God with the mind is resolving to know him better, to study his word, to listen to his teachings, to grow in friendship with him. It also means to use our thinking faculty to find ways to please and serve him. From the mind starts the resolutions to do this or do that thing or action for the greater glory of God.


ALL YOUR STRENGTH: The heart, soul and mind belong to the higher faculties or capacities of a person. They are also mostly internal, very personal and private. So it needs an outer expression, an outlet where this love can be made real, manifest and tangible. Strength here means precisely that; to use our hands and feet, our senses, our power to communicate and act to express our love for the Lord. And this flows right into the second greatest law – love of neighbor. It is through our neighbor that we channel our energy of love, of commitment, of compassion, and of solidarity. To love God with all your strength means to love your neighbor as yourself!