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One day I went to Sears. They had something I wanted, and I had something they wanted in my wallet. The salesman came up and asked, “Can I help you?”  When he found out that I wanted a snowblower and not something small like a pair of men’s black socks, he got really excited. He exclaimed, “This is a great time to get a snowblower because our best model just went on sale. In addition to the sale, it has a five-year warranty. If anything goes wrong, we will come to your house to fix it. Just call our service department. Not only that, but it has an easy-start button. You do not have to pull the chain to get it started.” I replied, “I’ll buy it.” We walked together to the checkout. On our way, he told me a joke about customers buying snowblowers out of season, which I was doing. I laughed. Then I told him a joke about trying to buy a snowblower at Home Depot. You have to go to the paint department to find help. After we finalized the sale, we shook hands. He even gave me a pat on the back.  I liked this guy because he gave me a good deal. He liked me because I was an easy sell. He was a nice guy and all, but I do not call it love; I call it shopping.

When I do something nice to someone, and that person does something nice to me, God does not call that love. He calls it shopping.

God defines what love means in the listening prayer in the book of Deuteronomy. The reason it is called “listening” is because it is the first word in the prayer:

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind and all your strength.”

Heart, soul, mind, and strength. What do these four have in common? They are all internal organs. So how do you love God with your internal organs? In order to answer this question, it is best to go to someone who knows how to love–the father of the prodigal son. We know the story. The son takes his share of the inheritance and goes to a faraway country. The reason he has to go so far is logical. Did you ever see a mall in the middle of a cow field? How much money can you spend in miles of cornfields? When the son returns the father sees him at a distance. What does this tell us? It means that every time the father wakes up in the morning he looks up the road. When he plows his field, he checks the road. He is always on the lookout. This implies that he is thinking about his son all the time. His son is always on his mind–love with all your mind. Then when he sees him, he runs to him–loves him with all his strength. His heart rate accelerates–he loves him with his whole heart. When they embrace, the father gives him a ring. In ancient times, the ring represented the family. On it was the family jewel or the coat of arms. It meant you had something in common. You were soul mates. And so the father loves with all his soul. That is how you love with your inner organs.

Do you know when God comes into my mind? He comes when I am about to do something dumb like getting upset at a detour sign that does not give any directions. I think of God at that moment and I realize, that if I am meant to get there, I will get there. When I was on call for the hospitals as the priest-chaplain, I used to be asleep with my heart rate at rest. I would get a call and all my inner organs were on high alert as I raced to the hospital to anoint someone who was about to die. So, how do you love God? Love with your inner organs. Why the inner organs? Because the inner organs never go shopping; they never lie. They will be the first to let you know that you love. 

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