Love one another! A simple command on the face of it, but most difficult to live. Love God with your whole mind, your whole heart and love your neighbor has yourself. I would propose that we look at this from the bottom up. How can we love our neighbor and God if we hate ourselves? When we fail to see ourselves as part of God’s ongoing creation; when we are blind to the Holy Spirit living within ourselves; then it is impossible to see the Holy in others or in creation itself. God created us; male and female in God’s image we are created. We are God’s beloved who comes to live with us and to share with us the ongoing struggle of life to become fulfilled. We are each of us, given the gift of freedom; the freedom to choose life or death. We are creation become conscious of itself.
Love is more than a feeling; it is acting. Love demands that we move beyond our own self-centeredness and exist with others; Love requires that we understand that we are connected to the universe; to creation. We are connected to life itself.
Question: Why are we afraid? Why are we afraid of creation, of life? We judge others and if they are not just like us, we recoil and act in fear, striking out at them. Why are we afraid if someone moves into my neighborhood and has a different color of skin? Why are we afraid if they might be a different religion; perhaps Jewish, perhaps Muslim or Hindu; perhaps Baptist or Mormon? Why are we afraid if they might be Straight, Gay, Lesbian, or Bi-Sexual? Why are we afraid if their skin is a different color than mine? Why are we afraid of others who think, believe, look different than ourselves? Why are we afraid to understand that we are part of that great diversity, that variety of humanity that reflects the Trinitarian God?
Why do we strive to be God’s chosen; to assume that God who created all that is, has decided to make me the favorite? What jealousy resides within me that drives me to compete for God’s love as if life were a competition? It seems that if we are all part of God’s ongoing creation, then we are equally beloved in our differences; much like a typical family. Families, for the most part, are where we learn to live with variety and to see the common humanity. We all go through the Cain and Abel competition for our parents love, and at t times this competition can be most painful, but necessary for human growth. We, at one time or another, strive to be the favored one, the chosen. Life is constantly attempting to teach us that we are all of us, chosen and beloved. We can learn how to relax and enjoy each others company.
This process takes place on a much grander scale than just the individual. How often, cultures, religions, ethnic groups, etc., all compete to be the chosen ones. It is as if life were the Super Bowl and the world was divided into teams, competing agains one another to be the first – to stand over all others as supreme. We tear others down, demean them and even resort to violence to defeat the other. We look around to see if there are others attempting to steal our thunder and strike out in violence to look for security. We fail to understand that Class Struggles always lead to jealousy and death. At times, we even have to invent phony reasons to fear the other. Fear is the parent of hatred and we in our humanity are called by the Good News to let go and to be thankful for the many gifts that we have received and then to recognize that we are called to share them with others as brothers and sisters. We are called to become responsible adults, letting go of our childish jealousies and competitions. We are called to treat one another as we truly want to be treated – recognizing that we reap what we sow.
The teaching of Jesus to the disciples can be summed up: GROW UP: TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOURSELF. Let go of your childhood fears and fantasies; your dependencies on others and become an adult. It is time to let go of your childhood narcissism and understand that the whole universe does not center on you but that we are part of something much bigger and grander than we can imagine. One of the problems with wallowing in narcissism is that our world is very small; it just me by myself. As we begin to look around and listen carefully, we begin the difficult process of growing up and learning how to love. Narcissism is not love of self; it is adoration or worship of self in a very small world filled with many fears and dragons. We depend on others to continually worship at our feet. The problem here is that these others will eventually fine other gods to worship. Then the question arises; who owns who? So often the extreme narcissist will sell his/her soul to be worshiped. The Gospel teaches us about emptying ourselves so that God can come alive through service and care of our world and others – that the only center is God. A difficult lesson for each of us to learn. To become an adult is to take responsibility and to let go of childish things.
How often in our development have we allowed those figures wearing fancy robes or miters on their heads to treat us like infants – dependent on them. They have no sense of true collaboration or community, except with themselves at the pinnacle. And for the most part, the majority of us go along with that. What would happen if people said that they refused to fight any more wars or be treated as replaceable commodities to be thrown onto the junk pile as soon as we outlived our usefulness? In our consumer world, people are replaceable things that serve those in power – the class system or the oligarchy come alive. Sibling rivalry; Cain and Abel are alive within the human framework until we no longer choose to play that game where others make the rules without sharing ownership with all.