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 12:28-34
Only by realizing that there exists a truly ultimate union of love of God and love of neighbor do we understand Christianity and its divine simplicity. -Karl Rahner
God. Neighbor. Self. Which love is hardest? I suppose that's only a valid question if you're going to itemize love into columns. Nevertheless, I thought I'd mention the problem of comparisons because the divine simplicity Rahner alludes to is not that simple. Loving neighbor as yourself presumes you love your self enough to do good in the world. And do you know the God you are loving? If that perception of God does not continue to grow and change it's likely that your God-Consciousness is not maturing on schedule. And 'Who is my neighbor'? That answer should also be an open-ended, ever widening challenge.
So here is a dynamic of challenge, maturing, responding, and growing in love of God and neighbor as yourself. But, as Julian of Norwich says of joy and sorrow, both are “one love.” Loving God, Neighbor, Self, is one dynamic and vital love. In fact, each makes the other possible: the “divine descent into human flesh happens so that God is where we are and is looking at us through the other person.” (see Rahner, Miscellany)
Keeping this dynamic interplay in mind, the prompts this week begin by considering love of self as a foundational necessity (meditation one). Falling in love with God changes everything (meditation two) and the love of God in the world utterly depends upon you (meditation three).
In the evening of life we will be judged on love alone. -John of the Cross
Ever maturing, (hopefully), -Suzanne
Meditation One (introit) as oneself
Understood correctly, man's love for himself, his “yes” to his self, may be regarded as the “categorical imperative” of the Christian faith: You shall lovingly accept the humanity entrusted to you! You shall be obedient to your destiny! You shall not continually try to escape it! You shall be true to yourself! You shall embrace yourself! ...
Knowing the temptation which humanity itself is, knowing how readily man tries to escape the harsh distress of the human situation, knowing how difficult it is for him to bear with himself and how quickly he feels betrayed by himself, knowing how difficult it is for man not to hate himself … we can then understand why God had to prescribe “self-love” as a virtue and one of the great commandments. We can then understand why we constantly need the help of...grace.
-Johannes B. Metz b.1928 Poverty of Spirit
Those who say, "I love God," and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also. -1 John 4:20-21
Remove duality and do away with all disputes; The Hindus and Muslims are not other than He. Deem everyone virtuous, there are no thieves. For, within every body He himself resides. How the Trickster has put on a mask!
Bulleh Shah 1680-1758 from Bulleh Shah: The Love-Intoxicated Iconoclast (Mystics of the East series), by J. R. Puri / Tilaka Raja Puri, English version by J. R. Puri and T. R. Shangari
Landscape with the Good Samaritan, 1638, Rembrandt
Meditation Two (insight) falling in Love, finally
Nothing is more practical than finding God, than falling in Love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, whom you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in Love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.
attributed to Pedro Arrupe, SJ 1907-1991
Meditation Three (integration) not without you
He needs you That's all there is to it Without you he's left hanging Goes up in dachau's smoke Is sugar and spice in the baker's hands gets revalued in the next stock market crash he's consumed and blown away used up without you
Help him that's what faith is he can't bring it about his kingdom couldn't then couldn't later can't now not at any rate without you and that is his irresistible appeal
The Last Word
True compassion is not just an emotional response, but a firm commitment founded on reason. Therefore, a truly compassionate attitude toward others does not change, even if they behave negatively. Through universal altruism, you develop a feeling of responsibility for others: the wish to help them actively overcome their problems.
-The Dalai Lama
Jesus says: “Whatever you have done to one of the least of these, you have done unto me.” How often we have heard this expression and used it in our own devout, pious speeches! But let us ask ourselves: Is it really possible for Jesus to say that? Is this not legal speech, saying: I give you credit as if you had done unto me what you have done for one of the least of these people? No, this is not legal speech or moral discourse or a bargaining method, for it is truly the case that we encounter in the other person the word of God made flesh because God himself truly lives in the other. And when we love the other and do not block the dynamic of this love by being guilty of rerouting it back to ourselves, then the divine descent into human flesh happens, so that God is where we are and is looking at us through the other person. … Whenever another person meets me, there is Christ present asking: Do you desire to love me, the word of God become flesh? And when I answer “Yes,” then he replies: Here I am, in the least of my brothers and sisters.
-Karl Rahner S.J. 1904-1984 sermon on the Great Commandment quoted in The Mystical Way in Everyday Life: Sermons, Prayers, and Essays
I once asked the Bishop of Geneva what one must do to attain perfection. “You must love god with all your heart,” he answered, “and your neighbor as yourself.” “I did not ask wherein perfection lies,” I rejoined, “but how to attain it.” “Charity,” he said again, “that is both the means and the end, th only way by which we can reach that perfection which is, after all, but charity itself …. Just as the soul is the life of the body, so charity is the life of the soul.” “I know all that,” I said. “But I want to know how one is to love God with all one's heart and one's neighbor as oneself.” Bu again he answered, “We must love God with all our hearts, and our neighbor as ourselves.” “I am no further than I was,” I replied. “Tell me how to acquire such love.” “The best way, the shortest and easiest way of loving God with all one's heart is to love him wholly and heartily!” He would give no other answer. At last, however, the Bishop said, “There are many besides you who want me to tell them of methods and systems and secret ways of becoming perfect, and I can only tell them that the sole secret is a hearty love of God, and the only way of attaining that love is by loving. You learn to speak by speaking, to study by studying, to run by running, to work by working; and just so you learn to love God and man by loving. All those who think to learn in any other way deceive themselves. If you want to love God, go on loving Him more and more. Begin as a mere apprentice, and the very power of love will lead you on to become a master in the art. Those who have made most progress will continually press on, never believing themselves to have reached their end; for charity should go on increasing until we draw our last breath.”
-Francis de Sales 1567-1722 is “speaking” but I think this was written by Jean Pierre Camus 1584-1652