Have you ever stepped back to consider what Christ meant by this? The sheer breadth of these two commands is difficult to comprehend. Embodying the love for God and the love for thy neighbor is the greatest of challenges. Take a moment to pray on the first reading from Exodus this week. Exodus 22:20-26 in part reads “You shall not molest or oppress an alien, for you were once aliens yourself in the land of Egypt.” Powerful, isn’t it?
What Jesus is challenging the Pharisee to do and what he is challenging us to do is to practice social justice towards our fellow brothers and sisters.
Jesus’ words and challenge to love echoes back to the Old Testament and the law of Leviticus which included: living generously toward the poor, not oppressing or exploiting the poor and judging honestly ALL of our brothers and sisters.
To say these are trying times is an understatement. It’s easy to get caught up in the anxiety from the pandemic, the stress of daily life and the mud-slinging of the political campaigns. It is now more important than ever that we focus on social justice and caring for one another.
This past week was one of my favorite musician’s 80th birthday. When I was young and times seemed simpler, I can remember listening to Imagine with my family and hearing “Imagine no possessions, I wonder if you can. No need for greed or hunger, a brotherhood of man.” I remember thinking, isn’t that what it’s all about.
Now as a grown man, I hear those lyrics and accept Christ’s challenge to love thy neighbor. Loving thy neighbor means loving yourself and then working every day to be a shining example of how Christ is in your life. This week take a moment to love yourself, love your family, and love your neighbors… no matter how near or far they may be.