Loving and believing whole-heartedly
In our Gospel reading today, Jesus gives us that very familiar commandment to love God with all of our everything, and to love our neighbors as much as we care about ourselves. Loving God and believing in God are closely tied together. Our belief in God is proven by how we love, not by the words we speak. Words only prove that we have vocal chords (or a keyboard).
Every Sunday in Mass, we speak the Creed, a summary of our Christian beliefs. But do we really believe what we say we believe? For example, if we truly believe that God is the Father of all, this truth is revealed in our respect and love for every person -- even for non-Christians and evil-doers -- because he created them and cares about them, too.
If we truly believe that Jesus is true God from true God, we love him so much that we cling to every Word that he speaks in scripture, we eagerly learn from his example, and we follow him everywhere, trusting him totally wherever he leads us.
If we truly believe that through him all things were made, we care about all of creation. In our love for God, we're good stewards of the natural world (we recycle, we utilize "green" alternatives, we reduce waste, etc.), and of the relationships he has formed in our lives, of the talents he's given us, of the time he's allotted for us on earth, and of the money he's given us the ability to earn and has called us to share generously.
If we truly believe that for us and for our salvation, Jesus came down from heaven and became man, we love Jesus as our closest, dearest brother, and we treat all of his/our brothers and sisters the way we want Jesus to treat us.
If we truly believe that Jesus suffered, died, and was buried but then rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures, we embrace our own crosses with hope, believing that by following Christ we will eventually experience resurrection glory.
If we truly believe in the Holy Spirit as the giver of life, we cherish the life that God gave us and we realize that we are important. We also value everyone else's life as precious, including unborn babies, the handicapped, the elderly, and even the criminally insane.
If we believe in one holy, catholic, and apostolic Church, we love ourselves and our neighbors so much that we want to grow in holiness so that we can become even more loving. We treat all Christians as important members of the Body of Christ, honoring and respecting them, even when we can't see their holiness. And we cherish our personal vocations as apostles, actively serving God, bringing his love and truth to the world in which we live.
The entire Creed is full of reasons to express our love for God, for ourselves, and for our neighbor. Reflect on this before reciting the Creed at Mass this weekend.
Thank you Lord, for I can love You because You love me. Thank you because I can love my brothers and sisters, because You loved me first. Thank you because my life has meaning as I discover anew Your love everyday. Amen.