Love the Lord your God with your whole mind

Readings: Deut. 30.10-14, Ps. 69, Col. 1.15-20, Lk. 10.25-37

This homily is intended primarily for the children. Jesus in the New Testament quotes the Book of Laws from the Old Testament and instructs people: "Love the Lord your God with your whole mind, heart, soul and strength; and love your neighbor as yourself." Probably most people donít pause to ponder deeply how much God loves us. And perhaps we donít reflect deeply on how we are to love other people.

Children, letís review how much God loves us. First, fold your hands as if you were praying, and place your hands over your nose and mouth. Breathe out and in. Can you feel it? Every breath you take is a gift from God. You take thousands of breaths each day, and we all take our breathing for granted. Pause to ponder that every breath you take is a gift from God.

Second, letís count time. In a soft voice, letís say one thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three. Every second of time is a gift from God. Some older people donít like to count their birthdays, but every new year is a gift from God.

Next, letís review some of your five senses. Touch your face, your clothing, the wooden bench beside you. When you go home, touch a flower or a blade of grass. Touch enables us to feel the world. Feel and enjoy the variety of textures that God has created.

Close your eyes for a couple of seconds. Imagine if you could not see. Open your eyes. From your perspective, what are some of the most beautiful things about this church? Look for beauty in the world that God has given you. Beauty exists not just in external appearances but also in interior goodness. Iíll bet you that Mother Teresa never won a contest of physical beauty, but she was one of the most beautiful people the world has known.

Imagine if you could not hear how different your world would be. Hearing enables you to learn from your parents, teachers, police and firemen, and priests. Hearing enables you to listen to and communicate well with your friends. God gave us two ears and only one mouth for a good reason.

Please take the time every day to thank God for these gifts: every breath, every second, and all your senses. This is one way that we can appreciate how much God loves us. And we want to thank God with our whole mind, heart, soul and strength.

In todayís gospel, Jesus tells us to love your neighbor as yourself. How do we do that? Consider how do you like to be treated? You are happy when people say nice things to you, and do good things for you. You are sad when people yell at you, and say or do nasty things to you, yes? Learn to treat other people the way that you want to be treated. None of us does this perfectly; we all have good days and bad days. But keep trying to be good and to do good. Your parents and teachers have instructed you about the Golden Rule: "do unto others as you want others to do unto you." As Jesus says, "Love your neighbor as you love yourself."

Remember this morningís gospel? Someone asked Jesus: "Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus replied simply: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your mind, heart, soul and strength; and love your neighbor as you love yourself."

Read other homilies by Father O'Malley