“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.”
Monday, 26 October 2020
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.