— What does it mean to love God with all your heart, with all your soul, and all your mind?

A — In the Gospel of St. Matthew this verse occurs in 22:37, but it would be better in attempting to provide a response to have regard to the context. Jesus is asked a question by a lawyer, in order to test him: “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” The response offered by our blessed Lord is this: “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’

This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Jesus appears to be saying that love of God and love of neighbor are inseparable.

They may be distinguished — because God and neighbor are not coincident — but they may never be separated.

If we may define love as self-gift toward another, then giving oneself to God finds expression in giving oneself to others, according to one’s ability, one’s responsibilities, and one’s context and circumstances.

This giving of self to others, this loving of others, is not possible for a Christian without the regular discipline of prayer.

Prayer is the enabling and energizing wellspring that propels us to love God with all our hearts, souls and minds, in and through loving our neighbors. “Heart,” “soul,” and “mind” are to be understood not as discrete parts of us, nor as discrete faculties within us, but rather as “completely” or “totally” or “comprehensively.”