Hosea 14:1-19; Psalm 81; Mark 12:28-34
Many today think that the purpose of a Christian is to do good works. But Jesus tells us in the Gospel that the first commandment is Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. We are commanded to love God first, then we can love our neighbor. Even if we do good, that does not necessarily mean we love our neighbor. How many have done good works, donated millions of dollars to charitable causes that result in death? We cannot say this work is good, even if it is called “charitable work”. Love for neighbor should be based on the love of God. Jesus said if you love me, you will obey my commandments. Loving God is not only in confessing it. It is in obeying the commands of God out of love fro him that is true love of God. Demons obey God but they do it out of fear or because they are forced to do it. But love for God is to do something because we love God.
The First Reading gives a picture of what this means. It is to trust God to save. Assyria shall not save us; we will not ride upon horses; we will say no more, “Our God” to the work of our hands. When we trust in things we created, that is idolatry. Our idols control our lives and this is not true freedom. The only way to freedom is to love God. God’s people trusted in Assyria to protect them, yet, that empire also fell and were not able to define it. We cannot trust in human beings because they will fall and they will fail.
When we remove idols from our lives, God promises this: I will heal their disloyalty; I will love them freely, for my anger has turned from them… it is I who answer and look after you. I am like an evergreen cypress; your faithfulness comes from me. We will not lose anything when we get rid of our idols. Instead, we gain everything when we trust God.
Lord, teach me to love you with all my heart, with all my soul, with all my mind and with all my strength. Teach me to obey you in trust, believing that it is only in you that I can be saved.