“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.”

Matthew 22:37b


Monday, 26 October 2020

Matthew 22:37b

On Sunday we heard the Pharisees ask Jesus what commandment is the greatest. And Jesus’ response was: to love God and neighbour.

St Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) in On Loving God considered four questions: why should we love God? How can experience God’s love? How can we love our neighbour? And how can we love ourselves?

St Bernard understands that loving God is a spiritual journey, and is therefore not something that is ever done perfectly. Rather we perfect how we love as we live. We love God because God is love and therefore lovely and loveable in Godself. But we know that we love other things in addition to God, and so the journey towards loving God more perfectly involves the work of ordering our loves such that we grow to love God first. All the other things we love can be good, but all our goods come from God. It might be a selfish form of love at first, to love God for the blessings he gives us. As we grow in love we will love God not just for his blessings to us, but first and foremost, we will love God out of gratitude for creating us and gifting us with our existence.

But what if we cannot see God or feel that we’re not in the right state to be in love with God? St Augustine said: “do not think yourself wholly unsuited to seeing God. Whoever dwells in love, dwells in God.”

So if you think you cannot see anything of God, love whoever is nearest to you. And look inside that to see where the love is coming from. And thus, in a way, you will see God. By loving your neighbour you have begun a spiritual journey that will find its rest and its end in God.

Lord God,

you made St Bernard burn with zeal for your house, and gave him grace to enkindle and enlighten others in your Church. Grant that by his prayer we may be filled with the same Spirit of love, and always live as Children of Light. We make our prayer through Jesus Christ, Our Lord,


Fr Matthew Charlesworth SJ

Fr Matthew Charlesworth SJ entered the Society of Jesus in 2005 and underwent the usual course of studies in his formation, which took him to such varied places as Canada, France, Ireland, Kenya, Spain, Tanzania, the United Kingdom, the United States, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. Whilst working at the Institute, Matthew managed the background technical aspects of much of the Institute's work and was involved in the Spirituality work, completing the Advanced Spiritual Directors Training Course and the Spiritual Exercises Training run by the Institute. He is a member of Spiritual Directors International and was also a part-time lecturer in Sacred Scripture at St Augustine College of South Africa. He is currently the Director of Communications for the Jesuits in Southern Africa, based in Lusaka, Zambia.

m.charlesworth@jesuitinstitute.org.za @mcharlesworth
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