A very powerful statement to be sure, but it seems we still haven’t got it! We still put all kinds of rules and regulations and pious practices ahead of this “one”, clearly stated, commandment. Even though Jesus was so very clear about it, it seems that we still insist on putting all these other “things” ahead of this one straight forward commandment.
Imagine if we were to order our lives around this singular commandment -- imagine how the world might be. Imagine if we focused on truly loving God and our neighbor as if that was the singular organizing principle of our lives, of our church, of our public and social policies! Our whole world view would change...we would see migrants and immigrants and refugees not as strangers and threats but as sisters and brothers. We would see the poor, the needy and vulnerable not as taxing on our resources, but as family in need and respond to their needs out of love.
Our primary motivation would no longer focuses on just ‘what I can get or do for myself’ but would look to God and to my neighbor. Suddenly the wellbeing and safety of “the other” would take on a whole new significance in my life in the building up of “the Reign of God” here on earth!
So my stance on issues like just war theory, euthanasia, abortion, equal access to education, just wages, racial justice, affordable housing, equal access to healthcare, compassionate care of the elderly, informed and mentally ill, would all be shaped by my love of God and my love of neighbor, knowing them to be sisters and brothers.
If all these issues were viewed solely through the lens of this one commandment of loving God with our whole being and our neighbor as ourselves it would call me to learn to let go of all my biases.
Imagine the social and political impact it would have in our country and around the world if all Christians or even if just a majority of Christians began to work towards building up Jesus’ vision of the Reign of God!
And of course imagine the impact it would have on the church itself, if all the priests, deacons, nuns, brothers, bishops and cardinals used this commandment as their primary lens through which they exercised every aspect of their ministry -- it would be transformative! Clericalism and careerism would be replaced with servant leadership which would bring about an end to the ongoing leadership scandal in the church that Pope Francis so often de- cries.
Within our country all our political discourse would radically change -- poverty, racism, the marginalization of others would all be things of the past...imagine! Jesus did...No, he commanded that it be so! This is his vision of “the Reign of God”, and it is the challenge that Jesus places before us as his disciples...for us to put love of God and to love our neighbor first!
What would my life look like if I set aside any resentments or pettiness I might have and choose to accept and love people just the way they were regardless of how wrong I might believe them to be? How do I best show my love of God and my love of neighbor? What might I need to change in my life to make Jesus’ commandment more fully the standard by which I live?