|Published on Tue, May 19, 2020 3:00 PM|
Meditation for 20 May 2020 by Susan Trabucchi
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:39b
In this chapter of Matthew, Jesus is being put to the test by a number of Jewish authorities. At one point, he is asked to name the greatest of all the commandments. The first, he says, is ‘to love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ Taken from Deuteronomy, this language is part of the Jewish daily prayer called the Shema and would be familiar to any practicing Jew. The second, Jesus says, is to ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’ (It’s interesting to note that this ‘new’ commandment is drawn from Leviticus, demonstrating to those in authority that Jesus’ teachings are grounded firmly in the Torah.)
“Love your neighbor as yourself.” This, of course, is the central tenet of Jesus’s teaching and the lens through which we must view his life, death, and resurrection. To follow Jesus, we must strive to be like him - to love and trust in God, and to offer true, unconditional love to all who are traveling with us on this earthly journey.
It is a beautiful and nearly impossible path. It’s easy to love people I like. But those who annoy me? Those who anger me? Those who frighten me? That’s a lot to ask. It has also occurred to me that I can be incredibly cruel to myself; so, why would I apply that standard to others?
As I prepared to write this, I turned to the practice of lectio divina: engaging deeply with the scripture in a contemplative way by reading and reflecting on it three times. Inevitably, each time I begin this practice, my mind jumps to “This is a bit silly.” Inevitably, it turns out to be a powerful experience, and I hear God speaking in a new way.
And that’s what happened this time.
At first, I heard the passage in the ways I have always heard it. On the final read, however, I saw those words, AS YOURSELF, and they began to shimmer. I read/heard Jesus telling me to “Love your neighbor AS YOURSELF.” AS YOU. Your neighbor is YOU, Susan. YOU are your neighbor. In essence, I heard Jesus telling me that there is nothing that separates me from any other human; each of us is made of the same divine “stuff.” Each and every one of us is a beloved child of the God we worship and deserves my unconditional love.
What would it be like to see everyone I encounter today - not just those whom I adore, but those who irritate me, anger me, and frighten me - as ME? Not just a part of me, but ME. And what if I could love even ME as God loves us all - without condition and with glorious, wild abandon?
Leviticus 26:27-42 Psalm 119:97-120 Ephesians 1:1-10 Matthew 22:41-46