Or that rude salesclerk the day before.
But then again, no one ever said that I had to.
Because that’s not the standard by which we are measured.
No, we have a much more difficult one:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these – Mark 12:31
So what does that mean in practice?
Well, for one thing, love is a verb not just an emotion or a feeling.
It’s active, not passive. It’s about making conscious, charitable choices, not ones by default.
And love is anything but perfunctory:
But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight. He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them. Then he lifted him up on his own animal, took him to an inn and cared for him – Luke 10:33-34 (The Parable of the Good Samaritan)
It’s looking for the good in someone, even when – on the surface at least – there is nothing at all lovable about them. Sometimes we have to look deep down inside others to find that good.
And, sometimes, others have to do the very same thing for us.
That all requires some real, hard work, doesn’t it?
And often no small amount of time:
We are obliged to love one another. We are not strictly bound to ‘like’ one another. Love governs the will: ‘liking’ is a matter of sense and sensibility. Nevertheless, if we really love others it will not be too hard to like them also.
If we wait for some people to become agreeable or attractive before we begin to love them, we will never begin. If we are content to give them a cold impersonal ‘charity’ that is merely a matter of obligation, we will not trouble to understand them or to sympathize with them at all. And in that case we will not really love them, because love implies an efficacious will not only to do good to others exteriorly but also to find some good in them to which we can respond ― Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island
Find some good in them to which we can respond.
Perfect spiritual guidance.
But, yes, not always easy.
As Thomas Merton reminds us, however, we are often required to make that very first move.
I’m going to try and keep that in mind today.
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