I bring that up because Twice in today’s readings we hear part of the Sh’ma – the prayer that was the foundation of the Jewish religion… “Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God. The Lord is One”. This prayer was the centerpiece of their morning and evening prayers – kind of like the Our Father is the centerpiece of our Christian prayer.
The very essence of this prayer is the subject of both the first reading and the Gospel: “You shall Love the Lord your God with your whole heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” Jesus himself told us today that THIS is the most important commandment of ALL!
So – do we do it? Do we love God with our whole heart, soul, and strength? If it’s the most important thing, surely we think about it all the time, don’t we? I admit, I don’t .. but I am trying to better.
God should be the first thing we think about in the morning and the last thing at night. He should be the first one we thank when we receive a blessing and the first one we turn to when we are afraid or in trouble. He is the one we should look to whenever we have a decision to make… which answer will serve God the best? It’s all a matter of priorities… is God the priority in our lives?
Here’s a test for you to discover your own priorities: where do I spend most of my time… work, school… but where do I spend most of my FREE time? TV, Hunting, eating ice cream? Another question: Where do I spend most of my money… house, insurance, gas… again, these might be necessities – so where do I spend most of my EXTRA money? Toys, vacation, hobbies, ice cream?
Wherever your time and money are – that’s where your treasure lies. Do you see the truth in that? Whatever I consider important enough to invest my time and money into – THAT must be a priority to me. If I spend all my time hunting deer – then that must be a priority to me. Maybe that’s a good thing, because my family needs the meat. But maybe it’s a selfish thing if I take too much time away from my family. Same goes for us work-a-holics. We convince ourselves that we’re putting in all those extra hours of work for the sake of our family – but in reality, we’re often doing it for our own egos. We want to move up – we want to look good in the company – or we want to plant just one more field – or we get a sense of well-being from knowing that we’ve worked extra hard. All of these things are good in themselves, but when they become the priority over family or God, then we have not made the best choice to Love God and our Neighbor.
Every choice we make should be preceded with prayer. Before I choose a career, before I choose a spouse, before I choose anything… I should take it to God… God – show me the way that will love you the best.
We all have an important decision to make this Tuesday. Before you enter the booth, ask God – “what is the most loving choice”. Think about the candidate you’re voting for and why you think THEY deserve your vote… what specific policy or policies do you think is the most important? Now - what does that tell you about your OWN priorities? Then ask God – “is that really YOUR top priority?” The first line of the first reading is very appropriate – Fear the Lord. In other words, respect the fact that He knows best and has authority over our lives. When we stop fearing the Lord, we think we can make all the decisions without considering His perspective.
Beside every voting booth should be a kneeler. Since there isn’t, you are welcome to stop here at church on your way to the voting booth.
Hear o Israel – hear o America – hear o church – hear o dubois county… Love the Lord Your God with all your heart, soul, and strength. In this year of Faith, let’s all strive to put God into every moment of every day, and into every decision we make.
Someone once said, “I Spend an hour every day in prayer… except when I’m really busy… then I spend two hours.” I’m sure almost everyone here thinks that’s just plain unrealistic… but even if we can’t spend 1 hour a day in prayer – consciously find SOME way to integrate God into your day. Otherwise, we’re ignoring the commandment that Jesus said was our top priority.