As the priest preached a moving homily on the twofold commandment of love in Mark’s Gospel, the adults and children in the pew showed how that love is lived.
It is one of the most familiar, most quoted and often least lived out of Jesus’ teachings. When asked which is the first of all the commandments, Christ replies, “The first is this:
Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, 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.” (NABRE, Mark 12:30-31)
There were three children, the oldest of early elementary school age, and four adults, two men and women. The kids knelt at the appropriate times and the little boy proudly and piously held his hands together in proper prayer position.
Their own unspoken homily came during father’s when one of the women and the little boy put their arms around each other’s shoulders. The little girls immediately joined in, so you had the adult and three children sharing an embrace with smiles of joy.
They answered the question: How do we learn to love God? If we are blessed, we do it as children as we love our parents, grandparents and other family members. We grow up knowing that they love us and it is only natural that we know them. If we are more blessed, they teach us that God loves us even more than they do. Our response is love.
It is no coincidence that Jesus also taught that we are to come to Him as little children. If we do that, we will be like those youngsters in that pew. They loved their family first and then God. Eventually, they will love God first and love others as a result of that love.
Love God for whom He is — our Father.