«You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.”
For the pious Jew those are among the first words spoken every day. When we were baptized and adopted into the promises of Israel, we were given the same script to follow: “Love God first, without compartmentalizing; and love your neighbor as you love yourself.”
When the Dalai Lama was asked to comment on “Love your neighbor as yourself,” he bemoaned, “poor neighbor!”
Love of neighbor is a commitment to the well-being of other. Love is not about liking someone because it is not humanly possible to like every person with whom we come in contact. There will always be people who will say or do things which we will disagree. It is not necessary to like everyone—only to accept them. Unconditional love is with the will, not unconditional approval. E.g., Marriage may build on natural affection, but its essence consists in honoring and loving the spouse regardless of one’s emotional whims. This means that within marriage love must be transformed from a mere feeling into a stable act of the will.
The catechism uses the word “disinterested” in speaking of same-sex attraction, saying, to get support from disinterested friendship so that lust is not the motivation or some material benefit. It is only by loving and honoring God that we can truly love our; if we dilute or twist God’s word or what our faith teaches us; you will eventually lose your center, which is based on God.
Our First Reading mentioned that “You shall not molest or oppress an alien” or be an “extortioner.” Today such behaviors and crimes happens also by human trafficking, including right here in Northern Virginia due to accessibly through social media, suggestibility and vulnerability. Teenagers with low self-esteem, including those from upper middle class suburban neighborhoods, just want to be accepted by a group of friends. They are most likely to be targeted by human traffickers that will pretend to be their boyfriend and give them material benefits like a mobile phone, salon treatments, as they learn to fit-in to a group where the secret criminal motivation is to manipulate the target into prostitution. We show a short video on human trafficking to certain grades in our Catholic schools, and in a true story, one girl was about to become a victim, but after she saw the video and realized her mistake, she reported the guy who was grooming her to the police where he was arrested.
The greatest and the first commandment is to love God with all your heart, soul, and mind. This provides the essential and permanent demand for unity between our interior life and all our external actions and obligations.
Love of God and neighbor protects us from stress. E.g. “The Bishop’s life, weighed down by so many cares, runs the risk of becoming fragmented through the sheer multiplicity of tasks. Its inner unity and energy is found through pastoral charity,… “Here it is not only a matter of an existentia, but indeed of a pro-existentia, that is to say, of a way of living inspired by the supreme model of Christ the Lord and which is spent totally in worship of the Father and in service of neighbor.”
The Latin prefix “pro” means in front of, before.
What are the first words you speak in the morning before you begin your day? Here’s a multiple choice quiz: Ugh. It’s morning again. I don’t feel like getting up.
Or, Help! I need coffee! Or do you begin with a prayer? So that Christ will protect our hearts, to change your perceptions and give us a wisdom of how to best love others?