Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Loving Our Neighbor IS Loving God

When the Lord is asked to cite the greatest commandment, He says, “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is this is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 22.37-39) The Lord makes no distinction between loving God and loving our neighbor AS OURSELVES.

St John Chrysostom challenges us to love our neighbor, not just as much as we would love ourselves, but AS IF there is no difference between us and our neighbor. From this point of view, we can see the connection between loving God and loving our neighbor. If we are willing to consider our neighbor as being no different than we are, then we acknowledge that each human being is made in the image of God and, as St Paul says, “that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3.23)

It becomes impossible for us to sin against another human being if we see their sin as no worse than our sin. If becomes impossible for us to be jealous of another’s blessing if we see their blessing as no greater than our blessing. It becomes impossible for us to hate another human being when we see ourselves in the mirror.

But it becomes possible to see God and appreciate His mercy and love for each human being, including us. It becomes possible to look past the short-comings of others, when we know our own short-comings are just as great. It becomes possible to love God when we love each other with equal fervor.

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