The Sunday Gospel (30th Week in Ordinary Time) once again reminds us of Christ’s instruction to Love the Lord our God with everything we have - mind, body and soul. And to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. (Matthew 22:33-40) It seems simple enough. But it’s often not.
To love God with body and soul can often be easier than loving Him with our mind. We can strengthen and discipline the body, for example, through penance and fasting. We can fortify the soul through the sacraments, by prayer and with devotions. But it is often our mind that is the weakest component of our being that is either often quickly distracted or it can become locked into a maddening loop. And of course, the devil knows this weakness. But so too does much of the media and advertising industry!
For example, it only takes an off the cuff suggestion, someone thinking out loud or a private thought being captured and drawn out into the public to be the captured, lifted out of context and then weaved into a completely different narrative to be used to back you into a corner, to send shockwaves through the public arena, or even to be used in evidence against you. It happened to Christ by His accusers. It happens also to clergy and it also happens often to parents by their children. Of course, prudence always suggests that what we think inside the complexity of our minds should oftentimes remain there or be patiently tested by the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.
But in the world of the power of the 30 second soundbite, the one line headline, the instant text message, or the carefully edited dialogue, it’s not surprising that the devil likes to hide in the details knowing that the majority of rational thinking people lose patience and attention rather quickly and seldom read the fine print. (To prove my point, I suspect many who had begun reading this email have already wandered off the page without getting to this sentence. If you have, well done!)
Loving God with all your mind, demands that we discipline and train our thoughts and thinking in the same way we might discipline and exercise the body, our impulses and our life of prayer. Love and sacrifice go together, and to love God with all our mind demands sacrificing the temptation to make quick judgements one way or another out of fear or pride. G. K. Chesterton viewed madness as a mental fixation with one thing in the mind that, without rest or escape, like a circle, it goes round and round and round and round and...
Only the eternal Mind of God who so loved the world and wants all people to be saved through the Body and Soul of Christ, understands His own unchangeable plan of salvation and how it will play out in time. None of us can understand the mind of God. But what we do know is, without changing His mind, God patiently takes into account our own weak minds, our loose tongues and our failures to think of the long term consequences of our words and actions at every level.
It is well worth reflecting on how many times St. Peter opened his mouth and with conviction, if not impulsively, said what he was thinking when he should have just kept his mouth closed and his thoughts to himself. But maybe that why Christ was so fond of him, chose him as our first pope and built the Church, not on Peter’s words or thoughts, but on his Simple but solid faith - faith in the forgiveness of God and God’s unfathomable plan of salvation in time for the whole world.
Keep this a little bit in mind.