The quote in this picture sounds very “New Testament” but it comes straight out of the Old Book in Leviticus. It is echoed then in Matthew 22:39, reiterated in Romans 13: 9, said again in Mark 12:31, and again in Galations 5:14, and Jesus last command was John 13:34. So, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that might just be important. In fact, I don’t think I even have to just take it on faith, making a big guess. I’d say that it is 100% important and accurate that his is REALLY important. In today’s Mass readings (Lev 19: 1-2, 11-18 and Matthew 25: 31-46) God gets super detailed about this very simple (in principle), and very hard (in practice) command that he has given us. Yet, here we are thousands of years from Leviticus and Matthew, with more time, scriptural study, revelations about the person of Jesus and the nature of God, thousands of books written by us, millions of words debated between us, and billions of people on the planet….and we still don’t get it. Personally, and this isn’t Catholic doctrine but my own mental image, I think the end of time will come when God does the eternal facepalm because we’ve finally worn out his patience not living this one small, yet powerful, command.
Leviticus goes into some super detail about how we are to deal with each other. In my mind, I imagine someone standing before God asking, “But can I not pay someone who is working for me so I can get richer?” and God says, “No, do not withhold wages. If you want to be paid for your labor, PAY THEM, because they do too. Don’t be a stumbling block to other people on their way to me. I AM GOD.” Then we collectively are kicking the dirt, put out, that we can’t have our way. (I have a visual imagination.) Then, in Matthew, Jesus breaks it down for us and makes it even more personal! He is basically telling us that everything we do for other people, we are DOING FOR HIM. So, our neighbor isn’t just some jerk next door expecting to be paid for their labor (how dare they), our neighbor is symbolically HIM. Now, if you think about how we treat each other, I dare you to tell me we don’t deserve God’s eternal facepalm. We call each other names, damn each other to hell, get rich off the work and pain of others, gloat over other people’s real or perceived stupidity/ignorance, we take from others what is not ours to take, we steal time that is not ours to steal, we ridicule, we mock, we…..you fill in the blank because we all have something. All because we can’t put into practice that if we wouldn’t want it done to us, don’t do it to someone else or if we would want it done to us in our need, do it for someone else. It’s so simple, yet here we are, 2017 doing it like we were back in the BC and God just dropped this fresh concept on us.
So, what do we do about this? It is important, because God himself says it is many times. Let me share with you a part of my own Lenten journey, and conviction in this matter. This is how I plan on changing me, so that the world changes around me, and I can better serve Our Lord. It’s simple with only three steps.
1. Selah: This word comes from the old testament in the psalms and is generally thought to mean “pause and reflect.” This is what we should do before we speak or act. Pause and reflect. What are we pausing and reflecting on? That is step two and three.
2. Would I do/say this to me? I have paused, and now I am reflecting. Is what I am about to say or do something I would want said or done to me?
3. Would I do/say this to God or Jesus?: If I have paused and reflected and it passes that filter then I will pause and reflect and ask, would I be able to say or do what I am about to say or do to God Himself?
If I can answer yes to both of those things after I have paused and reflected, then chances are good what I am about to do or say is an OK thing. If not, well, it probably shouldn’t be said or done and it’s time to redirect myself to do what is more in keeping with what God has asked me to do.
Love isn’t an emotion in this case. Love is a choice we make, and must keep making, every day in every way.
Just some food for thought and prayer.
Here I am, Lord, send me!