How do I do that?
Monday, February 19, 2018
From Leviticus 19
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
Of course Jesus includes this in his instruction about the greatest commandment (Mark 12:30-31). But I know that loving myself is no easy task. My self-talk swings from sweet to sour more than once each day. I stinketh. Yes I do, no I don’t! I do.
I learned this the honest way, from my parents, who learned it from theirs, who learned it from theirs. There have been about four hundred generations (6000 ÷ 15) between mankind’s biblical origin and you and me. We’ve all learned how to stink and pretend we don’t. We’ve learned all too well.
Neither Moses nor Jesus gave detailed instructions. But common sense tells me this: learn to love others and myself by loving God. Strive to love God. Pray to love God. Work at loving God. And by that I mostly mean, sit still for awhile each day and let God love me.
As I pray like this, God shows me simple things I can do to practice love. I am not always sincere, but God can change that. In Matthew 25 Jesus keeps it simple: trust the requests of those in need. He wants me to share my food and drink, my home, my clothes, and my time. “Whatever you do for one of these least brothers of mine, you do for me.”
St. Benedict was a sixth century Conrad Hilton, especially for pilgrims and the poor. At his monasteries the rule was, “Let all guests who arrive be received like Christ.” Pray with them, wash their feet, share your meal with them. Give them a place to sleep. “Whether they are arriving or departing, let all humility be shown.” Five-star hospitality is good for the goose and good for the gander, good for the guest and the host, good for you and good for me. Jesus says God loves it.
Our post-post-postmodern culture can do with a little more “humility.” I can do with a lot more, actually. Can I learn just to say hello to a stranger, let alone feel welcoming? I hope so. It’s really not an option, but it’s not going to happen unless I sit in silence when I can, pray with my mind and my body and my desire, and let God’s love soak into my skin, into my head, into my soul.
We are all in this together. We stink. But somehow, we smell sweet in the nostrils of the Lord. I think we should go with that - sit still and let it happen. Now is the acceptable time, now is the day of salvation.
Your law is perfect, Lord. There is nothing in that law you won’t show me how to live. Give me a place to be still and show me the ways of prayer. Find me in the streets of my city and give me something to do. And make your will my will, Lord. You are so good at this. May it be unto me according to your word.