The Golden Rule: “Love God and love your neighbor as yourself.” Easy to remember, difficult to live. One of the first truths that we learned as children—treat others as you want them to treat you.
Took awhile because most of us as children were “self-centered”. When we were children the whole world revolved around us. We had to learn about relationships and how to get along with others. The majority of us were able to learn while some never learned—they remained self-centered. They are the bullies, the ones who pick on others to attract attention. Or they are the ones who withdraw and want nothing to do with others because they are afraid. They are targets for the bullies. Children have the potential to be kind or to be cruel. A popular phrase used on the playground is, “Let’s get him.” Since there is strength in numbers, the victim has to stand and fight or run. Consider—stretch the imagination—adults are just big children. We are the products of our childhood, we just get bigger. However, some of the same dynamics are repeated. Bullying, harassment, discrimination are still prevalent. Same tactics occur on a world-wide level—among government officials. Sadly the consequences involve everyone. Abusive people are children who grew up and never learned to share—they never learned the meaning of love for neighbor.
Love of neighbor means more than “live and let live”. “You over there and we over here”. “You mind your own business and we will do the same.” We cannot possibly love someone if we ignore them. Relationship involves caring. For example, when we prayed for all the people who were affected by the floods, the hurricanes, the violence in Las Vegas—we never met any of them—but we cared about them—we can understand their pain. What happened to them could have happened to us. The human condition does not change according to address. We all share common denominators—one is that we are fragile. When we know the people who were involved, our prayer is more personal—our empathy is more sincere. If people have left tracks on our soul we are more likely to be affected by their tragedy. Indeed, there are levels of love according to the intimacy of the relationship.
However, the commandment does not discriminate. When Jesus spoke about love He did not say, “Love when you feel like it.” Some folks are easier to love than others. After over 2,000 years of Christianity we still have enemies. We still make war. But we cannot pretend that Jesus did not mean what He said. His words need to sink into our souls. All hatred, vengeance, suspicions need to stop. How can we hope for world peace when there is no peace in our homes? How can we expect nations to stop fighting when there is violence in our family? Peace starts with the person we see in the mirror. Remember that love is connected to forgiveness. We have got to be fast to forgive one another, especially in our family. We are not called to co-exist. Some folks live in the same house and never talk to each other. Take the time—make the time. Love is about prioritizing. People in front of us are more important than any electronic device. We can yell at the television, but we cannot have a relationship with it. The television will not be offended, even if we break it. The neighbor has flesh and blood—feelings that get hurt—emotional needs that we can meet. Our neighbor is never far away.
Jesus did not make a request—He gave us a Commandment. When we love, everybody wins. When we love we reflect the Spirit of God inside of us.