When I was growing up and talking about the first commandment with my mother, she always said she struggled with keeping it. The first commandment tells us to love the Lord your God with all your heart. My mother believed she might love me, her own and only child, more than God, or at least, she might put me and my needs before His will. I always thought that was a nice compliment, but it also made me wonder if I might feel the same way about a child of mine one day. Your child is your own flesh and blood; I could imagine how it would be difficult to place someone else before him or her. It was not until I heard my priest express this idea in another way that I was finally able to understand why we all need to love God first.
We must love Him first because He loved us first. If this world never knew how the Lord loved us, it would be impossible for us to love anyone else. To take that notion a step further, God is love, so to love without Him would not be real love. “In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as expiation for our sins.” John 1 4:10. In a way, my mom was right–she could not love anyone else more than me, but the only reason she could love me that much is because she knows God and the love He has for her.
The Gospel reading offers a perfect example of the powerful love God has for us, providing us with one of the many examples of the true meaning of love. God so loved the world that whoever believes in Him will always be satisfied. Hunger is one of the most basic human needs that must be fulfilled each day. The Gospel passage refers to the thousands of people who sought Jesus out, listening to Him before feeding themselves. Jesus realized this and in turn, He saw to the needs of this vast crowd, “taking the five loaves and two fish and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; he also divided the two fish among them all. They all ate and were satisfied.” Matthew 6:41
What a strong message! God’s love is not only great enough to save us from our sins, but His love encompasses all our needs, even the basic one like food. The world just entered into a new year, which always brings many new resolutions from its inhabitants. Perhaps one resolution could be to seek Jesus more often, like the thousands who heard Him in the Gospel reading. If we seek the Lord first, we will be satisfied in all our needs, because He is love and that is our greatest need