Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Loving One's Neighbor

One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, ‘Which commandment is the first of all?’ Jesus answered, ‘The first is, “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” The second is this, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.’ Then the scribe said to him, ‘You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that “he is one, and besides him there is no other”; and “to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength”, and “to love one’s neighbor as oneself”,—this is much more important than all whole burnt-offerings and sacrifices.’ When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God.’ After that no one dared to ask him any question.Mark 12:5-12

As chaplain, after our first day of camp, I have been blessed to watch counselors care for all in their charge.  This is family camp and so there are more adults around than usual and less children to watch constantly. And yet, these teenagers and young adults care for each other and all in the community, making sure of each one's safety, comfort and welcome. No one is left out and everyone is treated with respect. In an age where bullying, cruel judgement and criticism are the norm, here there is only open hearts and genuine welcome.

The testing of Jesus was non-stop and yet there were also moments when genuine encounter of love and acceptance changed the way everyone behave. The young scribe was truly wanting to understand and listen with an open heart. His conversation with Jesus, which we get to overhear, changes his heart and ours, too. Loving God and loving neighbor are both challenges that the human situation can make difficult. Teasing others, putting people down is acceptable and having faith in God is not cool. And yet the young scribe is transformed, as we are, when we love God and others with that selfless love that was shown to everyone by Jesus.

Today I ask God to help me love completely and set all judgement and criticism aside. May we love ourselves with the same love that has been given to us by God, tenderly facing the world with the kindness and acceptance we have so generously received. May love be the way we journey together today.

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