I had a rather fun morning as I was preparing to write this bulletin article. I was looking for a quote by Fulton Sheen, or at least I remembered it being a quote from Sheen. As I perused the vast library of Mr. Google, I had a harder time than I expected tracking down the quote. One page said the quote has been attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, one to G.K. Chesterton (although under a slightly different form), and other pages to a host of other people in history.
The consensus of the majority attributed the words to the pages of a book written by one particular author, someone I’d never heard of.
Quotes are meant to stick out in our mind, to stay with us, and they become something we can reflect upon as the days unfold and our lives carry on, even if we can’t remember them exactly. The quote I was looking for wound up not being important for today’s reflection, but there is one important quote for today’s reflection that we hear from our readings this weekend:
Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone! Therefore, you shall love the LORD, your God, with your whole heart, and with your whole being, and with your whole strength. Take to heart these words which I command you today. Keep repeating them to your children. Recite them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them on your arm as a sign and let them be as a pendant on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your houses and on your gates.
By the time we get to Jesus’ day, people know the essence of the quote but may not present it exactly. The Gospel writers all have different accounts:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” — Matthew 22:35-40
Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” — Mark 12:28-31
And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live. — Luke 10:25-28
While the words are slightly different, the essence of the quote is the same throughout. If we follow the most important commandment, loving the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength, and follow the second commandment, love our neighbor, we will be guided to the very threshold of heaven “You are not far from the kingdom of God”.
If we keep this quote always in our minds, and seek to live it out, we will be drawn ever more closely to the throne of God in heaven.
Let us draw close to God with love that we may experience the kingdom here on earth and for eternity in heaven.