"Therefore you shall love." -Mark 12:30

At Easter Vigil or Easter Sunday Mass, we will be called to renew our baptismal promises. We will be asked the six greatest and most difficult questions of our lives. If we answer "I do," we will be stating that we love the Lord our God with all our hearts, all our souls, all our minds, and all our strengths and that we love our neighbors as ourselves (Mk 12:30-31).

How can we live such a life of total love? "We, for our part, love because He first loved us" (1 Jn 4:19). Our love for the Lord and others is possible only in response to His perfect, unconditional love for us. He has kept His promise to love us freely (Hos 14:5). The Father loved us so much that He gave us His Son to become a human being, die on the cross for love of us, come to us in Holy Communion, and live within us forever. "The love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us" (Rm 5:5). If we receive that love, we can give love to God and everyone, even our enemies.

As we enter more deeply into these forty days of Lenten fasting, let us open our hearts to receive God's love by repenting, forgiving, and obeying. "We have spoken to you frankly, opening our hearts wide to you...In fair exchange, then (I speak as a father to his children), open wide your hearts!" (2 Cor 6:11, 13) Only with open, receptive hearts can we love with all our hearts.

 Father, may I "grasp fully, with all the holy ones, the breadth and length and height and depth of Christ's love, and experience this love" (Eph 3:18-19).

 "Return, O Israel, to the Lord, your God; you have collapsed through your guilt. Take with you words, and return to the Lord." -Hos 14:2-3

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