He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
The verse says that this is the first and greatest commandment. It is also the most difficult to follow. By neighbor it means everyone. Not just the people we like but everyone! Not easy to do. There are so many people that for one reason or another I would rather not love but God calls me to do so.
I hope that God teaches me every day how to love those that are hard for me.
I have been doing intercessory prayer for many years. Some times I really feel the anguish of those on my list. At other time I feel as if I am just reciting names. I am sure that God hears every name and I am forgiven for my lack of attention but I can sense the difference when I am present in their pain. I love this statement from Br. Geoffrey
Intercession True intercession, the sort that Jesus shares with the Father, is not just a detached impassioned shopping list of the needs of the world, nor is it informing God of something God knows already. Rather, it is a profound, loving, and costly holding up of others who are on our hearts before God. True intercession is being with God, with the people on our hearts.
Even though I am a Christian I believe that there are things to learn from other faiths. My understanding is the Jewish faith concentrates on what you do with your life, Muslims stop their day to pray multiple times, Buddhists spend time in contemplation.
These are all things that I can admire and use in my own faith.
When visitors come to a worship service in my own religious tradition, a great deal depends on how warmly they are welcomed and whether they feel included or excluded by what they hear during the whole time they are with us. We may have exactly one shot at communicating who we are to people who know nothing about us–or who think they already know a lot about us–but who, in either case, will remember us as the embodiment of out entire tradition, the prime exemplars of our faith.
Barbara Brown Taylor in “Holy Envy”
I had a friend who said “you may be the best Christian someone knows.” That is a scary thought. What do the people around us learn about Christianity from how we behave. Do we live up to what we say?
Today it is fashionable to talk about the poor. Unfortunately, it is not fashionable to talk with them. –Mother Teresa
This is so true! Most of us would prefer to avoid the homeless or those begging on our streets. We see them as “less than” us. It’s as if we are concerned about becoming contaminated by them. We have to begin to look through Jesus’ eyes and see them as children of God just like us. Then we will be willing to talk with them.
Today in church we heard the beatitudes from the gospel of Luke. They sound different than the ones in Matthew. I was particularly struck by verse 22. We have all suffered by being excluded, ignored, insulted. Exclusion hurts. It makes us feel “less than.” We have to remember that exclusion is something that humans do. God will never exclude us for any reason. God always includes.
Luke 6:20-26New International Version (NIV)
20 Looking at his disciples, he said:
“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. 21 Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. 22 Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.
23 “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.