By Mario Martinez
It is of humans to pursue things that captivate us, with the hope they will bring us a sense of fulfillment. It begins when we spend countless hours thinking about how that behavior or object will help us become a better person or achieve happiness.
For instance, one can say, if only I had that job, if only I were more enthusiastic when I am around new people, my life would be a lot better. The more we treasure that which occupies our mind, the more we desire it.
What we choose to think about, look at, listen to, smell, touch, or taste will affect the desires that grow and mature in our heart. The intensity of our desire for a particular behavior or object can increase or decrease according to how much attention we devote to it. The human brain is remarkable; we can regulate the intensity of our desires intentionally. When we make the connection between our intelligence and will, it is possible for us to “…hold on to what is good [and] reject every kind of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5: 21-22). We can use our senses, our imagination, our memory, our emotions, and our passions to discern if a behavior or an object will give us a sense of fulfillment or if it is right for us. God made us in his image, He intentionally made us so that we will choose well with the conscience he gave us (Genesis 1:24).
Jesus gives us the most important choice, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30). Loving God with all our heart means to desire Him above all else. It means making Him the highest priority of our life, and the center of our existence. This is a personal invitation to grow in intimacy with He who is Creator of the Heavens and the Earth. So, where do we begin?
Jesus begins his commandment stating that we should love God with all our heart. The rest of the instruction, to love God with all our soul, mind, and strength, has a profound influence over our heart, and thus our desires. In other words, by focusing our emotions, our thoughts, and our body to glorify God; our hearts will desire God.
As we grow in our faith, we encounter this blessed calling to love God with all our heart. So how do we grow in our desire for God? First, we must recognize that what we like we will devote ourselves to. Second, we must grow in affection to the Father through the Son. We must get to know Jesus personally in our ordinary lives. Third, we must allow Jesus to shine a light in our lives. We will then understand that: “The God who said, ‘Out of darkness the light shall shine!’ is the same God who made His light shine in our hearts, to bring us the knowledge of God’s glory shining in the face of Christ. Yet we who have this spiritual treasure are like common clay pots, in order to show that the supreme power belongs to God, not to us” (2 Cor. 4:6-7).
Here are two steps we can take to love God with all our heart:
We must choose to follow Jesus. We can pray this prayer several times throughout the day: Jesus, I long for You to be my ultimate treasure. Help me and give me the desire to do so!
You may want/need to make some adjustments in your life. What will you do daily to grow more in love with God?
Mario Martinez is the Coordinator of the Diocesan Marriage Initiative.