Word of Life. October 2010. " You shall love your neighbour as yourself " ( Mt 22,39). This Word can be found already in the Hebrew Scriptures. In replying to a question, Jesus gave his answer in line with
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In replying to a question, Jesus gave his answerin line with
the great traditionof the prophetsand rabbiswho had soughtthe unifying principleof the Torah, that is, God’s teachingin the Bible.
Rabbi Hillel once said: ‘What is hateful to you, do not doto your neighbour:that is the whole Torah, while the restis the commentary.’
The Jewish teachers considered love of neighbourto be a consequence of loving God who created human beingsin his image and likeness. So it is not possible to love Godwithout loving the people he has made.This is the real motive for love of neighbour,and it is ‘a great and general principle of the Torah.’
Jesus repeated this principle and added that the commandto love one’s neighbour is like the first and greatest commandment, namely, to love God with all one’s heart, mind and soul.
In affirming how similar the two commandments are,Jesus conclusively bound them together, as doesthe whole of Christian tradition. As the Apostle Johnstates so clearly: ‘Those who do not love the brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen’
As the entire Gospel shows, ‘our neighbour’ meansevery human being, man or woman, friend or enemy,to whom we owe respect, consideration and esteem.Love of neighbour is both universal and personal.It embraces all humanityand takes concrete shape in the person next to you.
But who can give us such a big heart?Who can stir up in us such kindness that we feeleven those who are most unlike us, those most distant from us,as neighbours, as close,that we overcome our self-love and see our self in others?
It is a gift from God.It is, in fact, God’s own lovethat ‘has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit
that has been given to us’.
Therefore, it is not ordinary love, not simple friendship,not just philanthropy, but that love which was poured outinto our hearts at our baptism, the love which is
the life of God himself, of the blessed Trinity,in which we can share.
So love is everything, but to live it well,we need to know its qualities which emerge from the Gospel and from Scripture in general. We feelthat they can be summed up in a few fundamental aspects.
First of all, Jesus died for everyone, loving everyone,and this teaches us that true love should be given to everyone.It is unlike the simply human love we often have, which is limitedin its range: our family, friends and people who live nearby...
The true love that Jesus wants does not permit discrimination.It does not distinguish between pleasant and unpleasant people, between the good-looking and the ugly, between old and young.It makes no difference for this love if someone is from my countryor a foreigner, from my church or a different one,my religion or another. Everyone is loved by this love.And we must do the same: love everyone.
Next, true love is the first to love and does not wait to be loved, as is usually the case with human love: we love those who love us. Instead, true love takes the initiative, as the Father did
by sending the Son to save us when we were still sinners
and therefore not loving.
Another quality: true love recognizes Jesus in every neighbour:
‘You did it to me’, Jesus will say to us at the final judgement.
And this will apply to the good we do and also, unfortunately,
to the bad we do.
it does good and prays for them.
to become mutual: one person loving the other and vice-versa,
in order to reach unity.
All these qualities of love help us to understand the
Word of Life for this month and to live it better.
Yes, true love loves others as itself.And this is to be taken literally. We must really seethe other person as another selfand do for the other what we would do for ourselves.
True love suffers with those who suffer,rejoices with those who rejoice, and carries the burdens of others. As Paul says, it knows how to make itself onewith the person it loves. So it is not just a question of feelingsor beautiful words, but of concrete facts.
People with otherreligious beliefscan also seek to do thisby living the so-called ‘Golden Rule’which can be foundin all religions.It wants us to do to others what we would like othersto do to us.Gandhi explains itin a very simpleand effective way:‘I cannot hurt youwithout hurting myself.’
This month should be an opportunity, then, to refocus on lovefor our neighbour,who has so many faces: the person next door,a classmate,a friendor a close relative.
But there are alsothe facesof the suffering humanity that televisionbrings into our homeswith pictures of waror natural disasters.Once they were
unknown to usand thousands of miles away.Now they toohave become our neighbours.
Love will suggest what we should do in each situation, and little by little it will expand our hearts to the measure of the heart of Jesus.
“Word of Life”, monthly publication of the Focolare Movement.
Original text by: Chiara Lubich, October 1999.Graphic design by Anna Lollo in collaboration with Fr. Placido D’Omina (Sicily - Italy) This commentary on the Word of Life is translated in 96 languages, and it reaches millions of people throughout the worldthrough press, radio, TV and internet – for more information visit www.focolare.orgThis Powerpoint presentation is translated in various languages
and is published on www.santuariosancalogero.org