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Homily for 9/16/12 - P15 - Loving God

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  • Fr David Moser
    Matthew 22:35-46 It is fashionable today, especially in the business world, to talk about “multi-tasking” - that is to encourage people to develop the
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 16, 2012
      Matthew 22:35-46

      It is fashionable today, especially in the business world, to talk about
      “multi-tasking” - that is to encourage people to develop the talent of
      dividing their attention and energies so as to accomplish a greater
      number of tasks in a shorter time by working on them simultaneously. And
      yet when there is a task that is particularly difficult or which
      requires a particularly high level of quality, we are expected to set
      aside everything else and focus only on that one task to make sure that
      nothing is missed and that every step is done, not only correctly, but
      as perfectly as possible. There is one task in our lives which
      supersedes all others, which is more important than anything else and
      which requires all of our energy and all of our attention. That task, as
      we heard in the Gospel today, is to love God.

      The purpose of the law of Moses was to provide the chosen people of God
      with some direction of how to accomplish this task of loving God without
      yet knowing Him fully. Although they were the chosen people and so given
      a greater knowledge of God than the rest of mankind, even the Hebrews
      were not yet ready to receive the complete self revelation of God and so
      He gave to them commandments, laws, which were an external mold that
      allowed them, even with an incomplete knowledge of God, to love Him. It
      is interesting to note that of the 10 Commandments none of them
      explicitly direct us to “love God” - rather they tell us how to act when
      we do love God. No one can command us to love, because love is not a
      rule, it is a state of being. If we love something or someone, then that
      love defines our attitudes, our behavior, our thoughts, our emotions;
      that love influences every aspect of our lives. The Jews, however, took
      the law, which were directions about how to love God, and by fracturing
      it into thousands of tiny pieces, and then dissecting each one to find
      every small implication, they lost the love of God and replaced it with
      dry and regimented obedience to a rule. Loving God had been divorced
      from the commandments. To love God became less important than to follow
      the rules.

      As they had always done, the Jews came to Jesus with a “trick” question,
      hoping to trap Him into saying something with which they could condemn
      Him. They did not come to learn, nor did they come with honest open
      hearts; they had already made up their minds about Him. Now they only
      wanted something which would confirm their already certain prejudice and
      so justify them in their own desires. They hoped that by forcing Him to
      choose one commandment as most important, they could then accuse Him of
      belittling the others. But our Lord Jesus Christ turned the “trick”
      around on them. Rather than falling into the trap they set, a trap born
      out of the fracturing of the law, He showed them the true meaning of the
      law in its unity. He reminded them of the over-riding purpose and nature
      of the law - its single purpose was to enable man to love God.

      In His answer to the Jews, our Lord also teaches us about the central
      necessity of loving God by the statement that we love God with all our
      heart, with all our soul and with all our mind. Mankind, created in the
      image of the Triune God, is a trinity of heart, soul and mind. If we
      would love God then we must do so with our whole being - we must imitate
      in ourselves the unity of the Trinity. God, Who is three Persons in one
      Essence, loves us not partially but completely. We are loved the same by
      the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. One Person of the Trinity does
      not love us more or less than the other Persons of the Trinity. God
      loves us wholly and completely in the entirety of His being. In the same
      way we must love God with our whole being. We cannot love God with just
      our heart, but not our mind. We cannot love God with our soul and not
      with our heart. Our love of God is not limited to an emotional explosion
      which is separate from our reason and understanding. We must love God
      wholly, with the unity of our whole being. Loving God is not something
      that can be “multi-tasked” rather it requires the whole of our
      attention, the whole of our energy, the whole of our being.

      Not only is it necessary to love God with our whole being - but it is
      also only possible to love God in His whole being. We cannot love the
      Father and hate the Son and ignore the Holy Spirit. We cannot ignore the
      Father and adore the Son. We cannot love the Holy Spirit but not the
      Father and the Son. If we love God, then we must love God in the unity
      of Essence. God cannot be fractured or torn apart - and neither can our
      love of God be fractured or torn apart.

      Loving God requires our whole being, our whole attention, our whole
      energy. Once we embrace this, then the question again presents itself
      (as it did of old with Moses and the prophets) - *how* do we love God?
      How do we accomplish this all important task? In answer to that unspoken
      and unasked question, our Lord Himself instructs us saying that to love
      God is the greatest and first commandment and the second is like unto
      it, to love your neighbor as yourself. Just as it is impossible to love
      “part” of God and not another part - so it is also impossible to truly
      love the Creator without loving His creation. Our love for God is
      expressed in our love for our neighbor - we love our neighbor because we
      love God. Not only that, but because we are united to Christ, because we
      partake of His Divine energies and so have become members of His Body,
      then not only do we express our love of God by loving our neighbor, but
      we also become the expression of God’s love for our neighbor in as much
      as His love and life become one with our love and life.

      To love our neighbor is to love God and more than this we are the
      expression of God’s love towards our neighbor. In this we see a further
      healing of the fractured nature of worldly love. Not only is the
      fractured law drawn together into a single whole by the commandment to
      love God, and not only is our own fractured love drawn to a single
      object, and not only in loving God is our fractured being united in
      itself - but also in loving God and being loved by Him we, the creatures
      who have been fractured from our Creator are reunited with Him and are
      joined to Him. The fracture created by sin between man and God is healed
      by this union of God’s love for us and of our love for God.

      To love God is the single most important task of our existence. If we
      truly love God then we are united with Him. Our imperfect and created
      love is joined to His perfected and uncreated love. This is our
      salvation - to be united to the One God. It is our love of God and His
      love for us that is the cement that bonds us to Him and which makes the
      union possible. Love God - not part time, nor with only a part of your
      attention and energy, nor with only a part of yourself; Love God with
      all of yourself, with all of your attention, with all of your energy -
      not just a part, not even just 99% - but with all of yourself with 100%
      of your being. Let the love of God permeate your whole being so that it
      defines your thoughts, your emotions, your life, your interactions and
      relationships with others. The whole of your existence is defined by
      loving God. Love God with *all* your heart, with *all* your soul and
      with *all* your mind.

      Archpriest David Moser
      St Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox Church (ROCOR)
      Homilies: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/propoved/
      Website: http://stseraphimboise.org
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