First commandment: Love God above all things – Sanctuary of the Father of Mercies

The commandment of love

In the first commandment of the decalogue, the Lord wanted to present the foundation for all fulfillment of the other commandments, love. In the Gospel of Matthew, the author presents how a Christian should love: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind” (Mt 22:37). When the author says that one must love with all the heart, with all the soul and with all the mind, he means that one must love with the entire human being, without divisions or partialities.

With this, one can realize the importance of love. Love is why we must put forth all our efforts and keep the commandments. And it is not just any love, but a love for God, author and finisher of human life. Thus, God reminds man of His Covenant, by which He does not abandon His chosen people, but also desires fidelity.

God, remembering his relationship with the people, expresses the following: “It is I who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from this house of slavery” (Dt 5:6). And, with this, God demands his love and adoration from the people: “The Lord your God you will worship, Him you will serve. Do not go after other deities” (Dt 6,13-14). The Catechism presents this request of God to be worshiped and loved as a just demand (Cf. CIC §2084).

Worship, Prayer and Sacrifice

Jesus, in the Gospel of Luke, talks about the worship that every man must provide to God: “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him alone you shall serve” (Luke 4:8). Therefore, the fact of worshiping God reveals itself as “the first act of the virtue of religion. To worship God is to recognize Him as such, Creator and Savior, Lord and Owner of all that exists, infinite and merciful love” (CIC §2096). The Catechism still continues to affirm that worship is a liberating act of man: “The worship of the one God frees man from closing in on himself, from slavery to sin and from the idolatry of the world” (CIC §2097).

Still related to the first commandment, to love God above all things, is prayer. Prayer is the indispensable condition for obeying the commandments. Prayer is what elevates us to God, it is an expression of our adoration of God through prayers of thanksgiving, praise, supplication and intercession (Cf. CIC §2098).

Finally, sacrifice also becomes a sign of worship to God: “It is right that sacrifices are offered to God, as a sign of adoration and recognition, of supplication and communion: ‘True sacrifice is any act performed to unite to God in holy communion and be able to be happy’” (CIC §2099).

You shall worship only the Lord your God

Let us conclude this reflection on the first commandment, in which the order: “Love God above all things” implies the prohibition of worshiping other gods, thus, the practice of idolatry. It is also included in this commandment that the Christian must profess the legitimate religion, both in private and in public; Attachment to any type of superstition, divination or magic is prohibited.

Finally, loving God above all things is also linked to waiting on God; This waiting on God means abandoning oneself to God’s trust and providence. Love for God encompasses a huge range of all the other commandments and, in general, of all of Christianity. As previously mentioned, the commandments are fulfilled due to the love for God that exists in the heart of man.

Father Fábio Nunes
Priest of Com.

BIBLE. Portuguese. Translation from Jerusalem. São Paulo: Paulus, 2002. 2206p.
CATECHISM of the Catholic Church. São Paulo: Loyola, 2000.

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