34. YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR LORD WITH ALL YOUR HEART. The first commandment.

Created: Friday, 29 November 2013 Last Updated: Monday, 31 March 2014

34. YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR LORD WITH ALL YOUR HEART
The first commandment.


1. -      People liberated by God cannot be like the others and make itself a god to its image, like a projection of its own desires. The Decalogue already signals a different life style. It elaborates it like a dialogue: “Listen, Israel” (Dt 5,1), “I am Yahweh, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt” (5,6), “observe this commandment and you will be well (6,3).
2. -      The prophets denounce the illusion of a conventional and hypocrite religion, that forgets God’s word and follows other gods: “But you trust in deceptive and useless words. You steal, kill, take the wife of your neighbour, swear falsely, worship Baal and follow foreign gods who are not yours. And then, after doing all these terrible things, you come and stand before me in this temple, which houses my Name and say: Now we are safe to continue committing those abominations? Do you think that this house on which rests my Name is a cave of thieves? (Jr 7, 8-11).
3. -      But the Gospel sweeps the laws. Jewish tradition has 613 positive laws, 365 prohibitions and 248 prescriptions; 1226 in total. And the Code of the Canonical Law has even more: 1752. Then, the question arises: Does the Gospel come to destroy the Decalogue?. The suspicion is in the air and Jesus thinks convenient to make a precision: “Do not think that I have come to remove the Law and the Prophets; I have not come to remove but to fulfil them” (Mt 5,17). Going up the mountain, like a new Moses, Jesus explains himself. It is not an informal conversation, but a basic, fundamental catechesis. It is addressed to his disciples, to the crowd, to all those who want to listen to his word: “When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, he sat down and his disciples gathered around him. Then he spoke and began to teach them saying ….” It is the project of a new man, a man who is born out of God’s word and lives according to it.
4. -      When the rich youngster asked him what must he do to inherit eternal life, Jesus answered: “You already know the commandments: Do not commit adultery, do not kill, do not steal, do not accuse falsely, honour your father and your mother” (Lk 18,20). All of them, the five, are centred in the love to your neighbour. The Pharisees ask him: Which is the most important commandment of the Law? Jesus answered: “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul and with your entire mind”. They do not ask about the second commandment, but Jesus adds: “The second is similar to this: You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” The whole Law and the Prophets are founded on these two commandments (Mt 22, 34-40; see 1Jn 4,20).
5. -      And then, Jesus taught them saying: Fortunate are those who have the spirit of the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. Fortunate are those who mourn, they shall be comforted. Fortunate are the gentle, they shall own the earth. Fortunate are those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they shall be satisfied. Fortunate are the merciful, for they shall find mercy. Fortunate are those with a pure heart, for they shall see God. Fortunate are those who work for peace, they shall be called children of God. Fortunate are those who are persecuted for the cause of justice, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. (Mt 5, 3-10). Fortunate! Jesus announces happiness that the disciples already experiment: Blessed are your eyes, because they see and your ears because they hear! (Mt 13, 16). The disciples perceive God’s kingdom signals (Lk 10, 17). And this becomes life’s centre. So, you not only will not have any other gods, but above all you will look after the kingdom of God and his justice (Mt 6,33). All other things will also be given to you.
6. -      In the Decalogue, the commandments that refer directly to God, are three. The first is: “You shall not have other gods” (Ex 20,3), The living God is a jealous one (20,5), who does not tolerate the idols. The gods of the nations “are not even gods” (Jer 2,11), they do not exist (5,7). This is Israel’s fundamental creed: “Yahweh, our God, is the only Lord. And you shall love Yahweh, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength” (Dt 6, 4-5). The Lord is the first and the last: “Before me no god was formed, neither will there be one after me; I am the Lord, and there is no saviour but me” (Is 43, 10-11). Abraham’s, Isaac’s and Jacob’s God is the Lord of History. He is a God who is present, who opens liberation ways and reveals his name: I am with you” (Ex 3,15).
7. -      But, what is the meaning of not having another gods?.  At the end, god is the most unconditional interest, something absolute, something placed over all: family, money, power…. C.G. Jung (1874-1961) says in his book Psychology and religion:   “It is strange to find people who are not ample and predominantly dominated by their inclinations, habits, impulses, prejudices, resentments and all kind of complexes. The sum of these natural facts works exactly like an Olympus populated by gods that claim to be propitiated, served, feared and venerated, not only by the particular owner of that company of gods, but also by those who are around them. Lack of freedom and possession are synonymous”.
8. -      The Catechism of the Catholic Church presents it as follows: “The first commandment calls the man to believe in God, to hope in Him and to love Him over every thing”; it also calls to “adore God, to pray to him, to offer him the cult he deserves, to accomplish the promises and vows that we made to Him”. Superstition, idolatry, diverse forms of divination and magic, the action of tempting God, the sacrilege and the simony are sins against the first commandment; the atheism too “as far as it denies or rejects the existence of God”. (2134 – 2140).
9. -      Now, what do we understand like God’s kingdom?. God reigns upon the world because  (regardless anything) he directs history, acts in the middle of the events and judges them, reigns upon the believers who observe the accomplishment of his will. God’s transcendent kingdom is instituted over the ruins of the human empires (Dan 2,44). Jesus announces the kingdom of God. It is a mysterious reality that does not come in a spectacular and resplendent way: it is among us (Lk 17, 21). It is discovered by the simple people (Mt 11,25). The kingdom comes when God’s word is addressed to men (Mt 13,19). It must grow like a seed sowed in the fields (Mt 13, 3-9). It will grow on its own power, like a mustard seed (Mt 13, 31). It will raise the world, like the yeast raises the mass (Mt 13, 33).
10. -    It is something that scandalizes the wise men of this world. The living God manifests in human history. We can discover and announce him with full conscience. It is Gospel’s heart. The roman theologian Guardini (1885-1968) says that God is discovered not only in nature, but in history: “It looks like if we had had before us only the stars, with a relationship between them in a severe and cold way, or the sea, from which we contemplate its waves, never understood, and all of a sudden from them a face alive and clear surges. All that there was before, stays intact; but these concepts are completed with the idea that God is a person. He is not already the God of the philosophers, nor the God of the poets, but the living God, about whom the Scriptures talk”.
11. -    It is a reality that anybody may experience: “How could this be expressed?. In this precise moment a news reaches you: Something has happened. Things happened so and so. A circle is closing around you, the set of these things, facts and exigencies. And the whole circle is looking at you. This, the situation, but, if it is not a This!. Wake up your deepest comprehension! It is Him!. It is not necessary that you simulate a conscience about something, but only to affirm yourself in the truth. You only must maintain yourself awake and alert, and any day it will be revealed to you that God is here and that he is looking at you, and you will feel yourself guided by his word and exhorted. You will then get into this unit, like a living being, and you will operate, in his virtue, impelled by those words and exhortations”. (R. GUARDINI, The spirit of the living God, Ed. Paulinas, Madrid, 1976, 20-25). You will then say: “Here I come to do your will” (Ps 40, 8-9).
* Dialogue: Which is the most important commandment? What does it imply?