“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” Mk 12 : 30.
Although there may be threats to religious liberty out there nowadays, there is an insidious encroachment on these same liberties that has flown mostly beneath the radar. It’s flown under the radar because this encroachment comes from our own hearts.
I’ll explain what I mean. When we’re out at a restaurant or with some coworkers and we feel a tug not to say grace before a meal because of fear of offending or of being looked at oddly, we have oppressed our own life of faith. When we are afraid of making some public sign of devotion (like putting up a piece of religious artwork that we really like in our cubicle) for fear of what others may say or thing, we have persecuted ourselves.
It’s easy to point the finger outside, and say that this policy or that statement is unjust, but it’s much harder to look at ourselves and think of the ways where we hesitate in giving God his due. Taking an honest look reveals the thousand little persecutions that we heap upon ourselves.
Jesus calls out that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord above all. Not just in one aspect, but in our hearts, souls, minds and strengths. In short, to love God with every ounce of everything that we have. Our passions, our reason, our wills-all of it ought to be directed towards God.
I was recently talking to a coworker who informed me that the little prayer cards of Jesus and Mary that I have sitting in my cube have helped this person to be uplifted and think about their own life of faith. I didn’t do these as some outward sign of saying, “look at how Catholic I am.” Rather, I put these up for me-to remind me that I am God’s adopted son (by grace), and that no matter what’s happening, I need to keep my eyes on him and labor for him.
As a result of this attempt to keep him at the center, I was able to have a small conversation about faith with a coworker. In this interaction, the Gospel passage for today is lived out in a small way-the Lord was put at the center, and as such an opportunity to converse with and love my neighbor opened up.
We need not fear anything at all when we put God in the center, even if we feel wonky or strange. It’s by loving God with our whole heart that the opportunities of love, of sanctity, and of fulfillment open up.
God has made us for himself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in him.