“WHAT IS THE GREATEST COMMANDMENT?”

In the Gospel according to Matthew, we find the following discourse: “When the Pharisees heard how he had bested the Sadducees they gathered their forces for an assault. One of their religion scholars spoke for the, posing a question they hoped would show him up: “Teacher, which command in God’s Law is the most important?”

Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second set alongside it. ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything n God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”

This is the Holy Trinity of Love; of God, of Neighbor and of Self.  Do not make false Gods to worship – but worship God the Creator and His Creation which is ongoing. Creation is not yet finished, but it is in progress. This Commandment is not as easy as we make it out to be. How can I love God if I do not love myself; if I do not love my neighbor? They are interconnected. Who is my neighbor? The parable of the Good Samaritan reminds us that it is the one so often in need and at the same time, the one who responds to the needs of others. The one who moves outside of himself to encounter the other.

Jesus, showed us that God moved outside of being God in order to become Human; he died to Himself and became incarnate in human flesh. Jesus then taught us to do the same for one another: to become one with the other. From the beginning of time, we have created false Gods – Gods that reflect us – we have created God in our own image. In our human history, we have created gods for every purpose; but primarily gods that reflect our fears and need for security. The day that we are born, we become the center of the earth; everything and everyone dotes on us and treats us like gods. We are pampered, fed, clothed, held, and everything stops for us. As people have assumed that the entire universe circles around the earth, we have also assumed that the universe circles around us. However, within a reasonable short period of time, we hear such words as no, and don’t do that, and bad boy or girl when we persist.  In attempting to move around, we try walking and hear the words of praise, but soon, we are running and hear the sounds of exasperation and caution. We become confused. Are we good or bad? Are we the center or not?

Sadly, we long for this illusion – that we are the god that all others worship. We at times learn how to create a world of distinct classes; of the deserving few and all others whose main purpose is to serve me. The addiction to wealth and positions of power and control can when successful feed the illusion that grows over time.  As we acquire the tools of the trade, others grow to depend on us and bask in our shadow. They are fed. At times, we see where great athletes, or movie stars build a retinue of slavish sycophants and both the master and the slave feed off of each other. They are willing to sell their soul to the highest bidder and we are never quite sure who owns whom? One of the problems however, is the ease with the servant can be dismissed -pushed out the door and discarded and replaced. The Master becomes the bully, creating an atmosphere of fear and intimidation, coupled with dependency. The Master places himself on the throne and assumes the role of king – or a god with absolute power.  They depend on the worship and obedience of others at all costs.

Throughout human history, these individuals come and go: Nero, Hitler, Popes and Bishops, Kings, Queens, Governors and Presidents. Power becomes addictive and attracts those with the greatest needs. On a smaller level, at times husbands and wives, parents and children, get hooked. They have a hard time becoming servant as Jesus taught, they thirst to be the Master and their worlds revolve around themselves. They are unable to look out to truly see the ‘other’ as connected – but rather as a commodity to be used and discarded.  I would suggest that we all are part of this madness once in awhile and that it is difficult to let go. Jesus was not teaching subservience or lording it over others; He was teaching that we are all equally children of the one God and in our diversity, add to the other.  We each have different gifts and are called to let of of engaging in comparisons and jealousy. We are not the creator – we are creatures, called together to bring life to the world; the life that we have received as a gift. We are all called to get over ourselves; our shit smells just like everyone else’s.

Love is not some romantic emotion; it is doing good for others, sometimes at great cost. To move outside of ourselves to see the face of God; to see the hands of God, and to feel the heart of God in the face of all of creation; of one another, celebrating our differences and special gifts that are so easily wasted and thrown away. We are called to see ourselves as God sees us – intimately and wonderfully created, an then we will begin to see and fall in love with both the Creation and through creation, the Creator.  I cannot love my neighbor if I do not really love myself and I cannot love God if I cannot love myself and my neighbor. Love is a trinity of connections – a dance as Richard Rohr teaches.

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