Thursday, May 6, 2010

Love of God, Self, and Neighbor in Context

The first reading from today's Roman Catholic Mass describes the tension of the early Christian community as it became inclusive of Gentiles (Acts 15:7-21). Apparently there were Judeo-Christians who thought that the Gentiles must observe the Mosaic Law in order to be saved while others believed this to be a hindrance to them receiving the faith. Eventually it was decided that Gentiles need only observe those statutes of Moses that would allow them to commune with their Jewish counterparts without causing scandal or division.

Today's Gospel is short and sweet: it is the teaching of Jesus in John's Gospel that whoever observes his commandments will remain in his love (John 15:9-11). Of course, the commandments of Jesus are to love God with one's entire being and to love one's neighbor as one's self. While the first reading and Gospel seem to be unrelated in content, when the Gospel is viewed in the context of the first reading it sheds light on one practical way that we are to love God, self, and neighbor. The connection between the two is that love means focusing on what is essential and not allowing ourselves to be distracted by bias, prejudice, pet-peeves, or people's idiosyncrasies. In other words, love implies looking upon the other as a sister or brother who is beloved of God, Christ, and Holy Spirit and not critically eyeballing them for all those characteristics that may not be appealing to us. Just as some Judeo-Christians of the early Church were "troubling" their Gentile sisters and brothers by viewing them with disdain for not following the letter of the Mosaic law, so we can violate the spirit of evangelical love by "troubling" others when we choose to see them through the lens of bias, prejudice, or our "pet-peeves." Today's readings call forth the human capacity to transcend our bias', prejudices, or pet-peeves so that we might see and love others as beloved of God. Pat, T.O.R.