The Greatest Commandment (Mark 12:28) One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?"
"The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear. O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 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: Love your neighbor as yourself."
Within this love of God comes first, and love of self is assumed, and love of neighbour is to be learned. There's a tendency for people to say they didn't love themselves because they didn't care for themselves. They see themselves with great self pity as self sacrificing and one day say with great solemnity, I'm working on loving myself. Ironically, narcissism is the beginning of life's journey. The baby literally is 'king baby'. The first illusion is that we are caring for others when so often co dependency is just a twisted self care narcissism that takes others 'hostage' and congratulates ourselves being 'good' people 'who were abused'.
Later Jesus said, "Love your enemy." You can almost see him deal this out for the sort of people I've just described. They present as kind and loving and learning to care for themselves continuing in this stage interminably. Even tax collectors care for their own as do sociopaths. They portray themselves as great spiritually because they care for their own DNA, their own immortality, their own solution to fear of loneliness and isolation, their children, their friends, the other cannibals in their tribe, for instance. The great leap of faith is caring for the 'other'. That's the spiritual message in learning love for that which is most different from oneself.
Reading Diogenes Allen's Spiritual Theology I am struck by the simplicity of his summarization of the spiritual journey:
1) Conversion (also called repentance)
2) The development of virtue or human excellence, which includes the redirection of the emotions or passions; and
3) love of neighbour
Phillip Yancey has claimed elsewhere that the trick of evil is to convince us that religion is the enemy of pleasure. However G.K. Chesterton made it clear in his writings that pleasure came from God and as such was to be truly appreciated by the religious. It is a delight though to read his epicurean approach to pleasure contrasting the savoring and moderation of indulgence to the gluttonous overly piggish addictive approach to pleasure. His writing of the appreciation of the grace of one wife with it's depth and humble acknowledgement of the lifetime needed to know a woman is contrasted with the shallow careless involvement of the man who has 5.
But then the ancients and not so ancients appreciated that the greatest challenge of love of neighbour was indeed love of the opposite sex and as Jesus said with greatest clarity, "Love your enemy". God's sun shines on sinners and saints so to become more like God we must learn from his all encompassing love.
)I was about to write a reply to a fellow's report which belittled my august work and was a truly shoddy piece of penmanship by either a doddering fool or one wet behind the ears. I had, as a good clinician, cured a patient of a potentially lethal disease and returned her to work. Paid the least in the system for my front line work harried from morning to night with impossible tasks and ever increasing beaurocratic demands to record, record, record, I'd not included a text book description of the 'diagnosis' I made, especially considering that in the very recent past Doctors were asked to summarize their observation and investigation in the least words culminating in a description of the clinical with a 'diagnosis'. I reported my diagnosis with 5 axis and 3 pages of documentation which I sent to the family physician, a fine man known to me and knowing me, so we have our own internal clinical communication. This "expletive, expletive, expletive" high paid lawyer/bureaucrat/doctor, not a clinician by any means, one who counts his success not in lives saved by rather in dollars earned and debates won, had the effrontery to say my patient should have been well in 2 months rather than the year it took for her to recover. His work was shoddy and failed in "due diligence" to understand the 'conventions' of clinical practice which have us under the gun of time and pressure of overflowing waiting rooms and no hospital beds and no money for the patients treatment and no nurses for home care, while we write our report to the doctor and then follow up with collection of data which confirms or denies our initial working diagnosis over subsequent visits. There is no time for the niceities of the courts and bureaucrats lightyears in time and distance and mental processing and soul from the front lines of human suffering. Later, in subsequent comments on the patient and response to treatment and measures I've done in the office but not had time to type into my clinical note to the doctor, I find all the data that this person will use to 'win' with the help of lawyers and unions and her other doctors.
This other doctor, hatchet man, high paid, low life mercenary, scoundrel, shoddy work doer, company doctor, sociopath, expletive, expletive, expletive is holy of holies the 'neighbour' that Jesus is talking about.
No, my soul cries out. When I speak foul of a president, prime minister, government worker, colleague, criminal, pedophile, murderer, ex marital partner, tax collector, policemen, that can't be the 'neighbour' Jesus was talking about,
Please God don't mean that. Please God don't expect me to virtuously respond to this narcissistic pricks pretentious self serving crap in which he quotes the DSMIV diagnostic book to show that he actually can read even though to anyone with IQ over 40 it would appear that he isn't capable of reading but can only see that which agrees with his own misogyny. Please God don't expect me to love this man who clearly is born of his sister and brother having sex together as teenagers. His writing tells me beyond a doubt that little children are not safe in his company.
But yes, since I would consider myself a spiritual person on a spiritual journey God naturally expects me to respond to this sycophant in the way that might best not create war and allow me to wipe out his genetic strain but rather sow peace. Indeed the St. Francis Prayer, "Make me a channel of your peace" speaks to the kind of manners and speech I really ought to employ when referring to little shits comments on my patient. St. Francis would encourage me to use language of peace and high excellence when I reply to this insectoid like colleague. St. Francis and the commandment, Love thy Neighbour, Jesus quotes would have me speak nicely to and about the rodents that infest high positions of government and beyond and do horrible and ghastly things to the environment, the economy and the poor. .
Which explains why I'd like to live on another planet.
God, couldn't I have better neighbours and not have to actually do the work of being a spiritual person. However, as Diogenes Allen states, "God is as fully active and present in our lives when we are making an effort as when we are not."
Increasingly, I'm finding that the greatest effort is restraining myself. Ranting and raving is really just having temper tantrums. The other is pouting. Somewhere there's this truly beautiful and graceful thing called being a 'gentleman' or 'gentlewoman'. It's called being 'well mannered'. It's called 'civilization'.
So I have to ask if I'd treat my lover, my child, my dog or even my tropical fish the way I would have treated this genetic aberration of a colleague in writing were it not for God's kindness in sharing with me the thoughts of Yancey, Chesterton, Allen, Mark and Jesus. Do I speak about my government the way I speak about my dog. Would I speak about the police or the terrorists or the other guy's political party as Jesus did when he said, "Love them for they know not what they do".
It's all called 'loving your neighbour'. It's the work of character. It's the work of the spiritual journey. It's making the effort. That said, Help me Jesus because it's obviously that I need all the help I can get. So God lend me a little muscle. Put your back to this task of mine, please. Kick me through the goalpost of heaven! Surely my pigskin ass needs kicking and on my own I'd just lie in the field bitching about all these big sweaty men grabbing and jumping all over me. Make me free with one fine kick, please Jesus!
And if it be thy will, take from me this cup that says I have to love my neighbour. Couldn't we just have me love you and me God. Even better couldn't it be me first, God.
Love your neighbour, alright already. I'll try to love my neighbour. Shouldn't the shits do more to be more loveable, though. Especially beaurocrats, judges and politicians and bankers and tax men and especially this colleague of mine whose stupidity has reached a new low.
Yea. Yea. This is about me and you. Mind my own business, I hear you say.
Love your neighbour, whatever!
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