For some loving God is doable and loving neighbor is doable, but loving self is tough. While for others it’s loving neighbor that is tough and for still others it’s loving anyone that is tough. But this is what Jesus is calling us to do if we assume that we are all working on our love of God then we need to be working on our love of neighbor and our love of self too!
Many times things from our past make it difficult for us to reach out, to allow ourselves to be open and vulnerable before God, before others or even to be open and vulnerable with ourselves! And yet this is what Jesus is calling us to do: to let go of the past, to forget who is a Samaritan or a Canaanite or a leper, and to love the person as they are, as we encounter them, regardless of their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, social economic status, immigration status, political party affiliation...all of us sisters and brothers, the children of God!
Perhaps in doing that we may come to be better able to love ourselves in the midst of our own brokenness, just as we are, just a God loves us! By being willing to try and love the one who has hurt us, or let us down or who scares us because they are different or because they don’t act the way we think they should or the way we want them to…by loving them as they are, we are being changed, becoming more and more Christ like!
When we step out of our comfort zone and risk to welcome the stranger, the immigrant, the refugee, “the other”, in truth we are welcoming Jesus. So in the coming months as we find new ways to “share the journey” with our sisters and brothers of color marching for racial justice and an end to white supremacy, and as we journey with our sister and brother immigrants, migrants and refugees, let us remember that we are sharing the journey with Jesus! Let us ask ourselves who do I need to work on loving better? How does this commandment of Jesus to love my neighbor as myself impact how I view and what I will do about systemic racism, DACA, ACA, limits on refugees, the struggle of the poor and unemployed and underemployed and so much of our pending legislation?
Jesus challenges us to live a different way of life, and Pope Francis has challenged us to love and care for all life…from the unborn, the elderly and the sick to the homeless, the imprisoned, the marginalized and the refugee, to caring for our common home, the earth. It is a tall order and truly a way of living on this planet, a way of being in relationship with all of creation. Falling in love with God and with “the other” and with the earth it-self! It is nothing less than inhabiting life afire with the love of the Holy Spirit and allowing the Holy Spirit to possess you and guide your every thought and action.