In today’s Gospel, we see an anxious Scribe asking Jesus, ‘which is the first of all the commandments?’ Jesus replied. ‘This is the first: Listen, Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord, and you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength’ – heart –soul – mind, strength, these are extremely strong words; if we stop to ponder them deeply, each contains a great depth of meaning, a call to give our love totally to God with every fibre of our being. Most of us are familiar with these words of Jesus. For myself, it is loving God with all my heart and soul and strength, that has always struck me forcibly, but reflecting anew on this Gospel text, it was the word ‘mind’ which drew my attention today.
What does it mean to love God with all my mind? At first sight it sounds very intellectual and even calculating, though we do speak of a person having a beautiful mind, or of someone asking us to be mindful of them in our prayer or in some other way. Our minds are indeed a very precious gift from God.

But it is the heart which is known world-wide as a symbol of love – we hear people say ‘I love this or that person with all my heart, but I have never yet heard anyone say, I love you with all my mind, there would surely be a few raised eyebrows, to say the least!

It is interesting to note that the Scribe who asked Jesus this question responded by saying: ‘Well spoken, Master; ……to love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and strength….this is far more important than any holocaust or sacrifice’. He uses the word ‘understanding’ instead of ‘mind’ and this gives us the insight we need to ponder and reflect upon.

St. Paul enlightens us further when in his letter to the Philippians 2;1-6 he says; ‘ If in Christ there is anything to move you, any incentive to love….I appeal to you, make my joy complete by being of single mind, one in love, one in heart and one in mind. Make your own the mind of Christ’, he entreats us, ‘who being in the form of God, did not count equality with God something to be grasped but he emptied himself.’ To be called to make our own the mind of Christ is indeed a profound, even fearful, challenge.

St. Paul throws further light on this call to love God with our minds as well as our hearts ,when in his letter to the Romans 12:1-2 he pleads with us ‘I implore you by God’s mercy to offer your very selves to God – a living sacrifice….the worship offered by mind and heart’. Further on in the same letter he again exhorts us ‘let your minds be re-made and your whole nature thus transformed. Then, and only then, will you be able to discern the will of God and to know what is good, acceptable and perfect’.
For those of us called to the Dominican way of life, our Rule reminds us the first reason for which we are gathered together in community is to live in harmony having one mind and heart in God.

In this year of Faith which our Holy Father Pope Benedict has inaugurated, he says in his Apostolic letter: ‘ever since the start of my ministry as Successor of Peter, I have spoken of the need to rediscover the journey of faith so as to shed ever clearer light on the joy and renewed enthusiasm of the encounter with Christ’… he goes on to say ‘we must rediscover a taste for feeding ourselves on the Word of God…and on the Bread of life. What the world is in particular need of today is the credible witness of people enlightened in mind and heart, by the Word of the Lord, and capable of opening the hearts and minds of many to the desire for God and for true life, life without end’.

Pope Benedict ends his Apostolic letter by inviting us to ‘entrust this time of Grace to the Mother of God, proclaimed ‘blessed because she believed’. (Lk:1.45)

Responding generously to the appeal of Pope Benedict, with the help of God’s ever present Grace, we will truly be responding to today’s Gospel passage i.e. to ‘to love God with every fibre of our being , heart, soul, mind and strength’ as Mary did.