Precepts (If you prefer, scroll down for screencast)
Keeping God’s precepts is an important thing in this week’s Collect. In fact, by keeping the precepts, we merit to attain eternal life - that’s how important they are. Let’s start with what are precepts.
Do you remember the 5 precepts of the Catholic Church?
1. You shall attend Mass on Sundays and on holy days of obligation and rest from servile labor.
2. You shall confess your sins at least once a year.
3. You shall receive the sacrament of the Eucharist at least during the Easter season.
4. You shall observe the days of fasting and abstinence established by the Church.
5. You shall help to provide for the needs of the Church.
Personally, I think they could have been a little bit harder. Sometimes they seem like the “what’s the least I have to do” list.
Then there’s the 10 precepts or commandments that God gave to Moses. While those 10 are still valid and important, in Matthew 22, Jesus boils them down to two:
"You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments,” Matt. 22:37-39.
Turn on the news and you'll notice it doesn't take long to see people breaking those two commandments. But not so fast. Do we truly love God and neighbor? Jesus instructs us to love God with all our heart, soul and mind. What does that mean?
St. Augustine wrote: You are commanded to love God "with all thy heart," your whole thoughts -- "with all thy soul," your whole life -- "with all thy mind," your whole understanding — “Thus He has left no part of our life which may justly be unfilled of Him.”
To love our neighbor as ourself means that we love our neighbor and ourselves because we are created in God’s image.
The Church Fathers (Pseudo-Chrys) wrote: "But who loves man is as who loves God; for man is God’s image, wherein God is loved, as a King is honoured in his statue. For this cause this commandment is said to be like the first.” When we love others, we are loving God.
This week, I encourage you to ponder the words of St. Augustine: Do you love God with your whole thoughts, with your whole life, and with your whole understanding, that “He has left no part of your life which may justly be unfilled of Him.” Ask the Holy Spirit to help you find those areas that need to be filled with God.
If we don't have love of God and of each other, how will the world see God in us?
Thanks for praying with me,