June 7, 2018
by Maureen McCann Waldron
Retired from Creighton University
click here for photo and information about the writer

Thursday of the Ninth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 356

2 Timothy 2:8-15
Psalms 25:4-5AB, 8-9, 10 and 14
Mark 12:28-34

Praying Ordinary Time

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

Enjoying Vacation Time
My Mother's Suscipe: An Alzheimer's Story

There are hundreds of ancient commandments in the Torah, outlining the how Jewish people should live.  They include a myriad of rules for worship, prayer, temple services, fasting, cleanliness and sacrifice of animals.

So, it may have surprised those gathered around Jesus when a scribe asked which was the most important of those laws.  Jesus answered simply: Love God and love neighbor.  Those listening were so surprised that “no one dared to ask him any more questions.”
Not just love God, but to do it “with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind,
and with all your strength.”

And, “love your neighbor as yourself... There is no other commandment greater than these.”
But, how much of our hearts are free to love as expansively as God loves us?  Maybe not all of our heart and soul is available to love because it is previously occupied – or pre-occupied.   Jesus says love with our whole hearts, minds and souls. But our minds are filled with racing thoughts; our hearts distracted by family matters.  Our souls are busy trying to be holy.

Pope Francis calls these many preoccupations the “hidden idols” in our lives; the things which capture our hearts and attention.  Rather than connect with God or neighbor, I think of my own needs, and what others think of me.  Maybe I can’t love with all of my heart because a large segment of my heart is filled with resentments or judgements of others. Perhaps I use the space in my heart and mind to nurse my grudges or tend past wounds.  How much anger fills my heart with those I refuse to forgive?

How do we free up that occupied space in our hearts to love God with our whole selves? We want to focus our whole minds and hearts, but how?  If we begin to focus by making a commitment to daily prayer, that promise can have a profound effect on our lives.
Prayer is a relationship with a real, loving entity, a God who loves us more than we can imagine.  The shift happens when we move from “saying prayers” to praying in the sense of entering into a personal relationship, which centers on a sense of closeness, accompaniment and intimacy.

What do we want to thank God for? What do we worry about?  What are we facing today? What do we want to ask of God?  Speak, then listen. What is God asking of us?  Where do we feel “sent” by God today?  How can we serve our God whose profound love understands and forgives us over and over?

Being more aware of our relationship with God will naturally make us more aware of our Neighbor.   When we are no longer looking inward at ourselves and our needs, we have love of God and the strength to help us look beyond ourselves.  With a stronger relationship with Jesus, we can open our eyes to those who need us the most.  We can forgive those who have wronged us.  We can love those who are most unlovable.  All of these are the Neighbors Jesus wants us to love.

Loving Jesus, I want to say I can’t love the same way you do.  I’m weaker and less generous.  But when I connect with you, I feel your love filling my soul and your strength, sending me on my way.  With your hand to guide me, I will love those around me and have my eyes open to those who need me the most.

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