One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” ~ Mark 12:28-31
This is being sent to you on February 14th, Valentine’s Day. I have a bit of difficulty with this “holiday” – much like the difficulty I have with Thanksgiving. Why do we set aside one special day to show our gratitude? Again, why do we need a special day to show our love? Is it because the expression of gratitude or love doesn’t come easily for many of us?
My dog, Oliver, seems grateful for every pat on the head, belly rub he gets. He wags his tail with overwhelming enthusiasm at the mention of a bite of apple, the sound of his food or water filling his dish. Oliver seems to love me because he’s always beside me, on top of me, gazing intently into my eyes and wanting and waiting desperately for me to say the word, “kiss” – permission to quickly lick my hand or cheek. Thanksgiving and high regard for others come so naturally for him. Oliver doesn’t care how old/young I am, how I look, how much money I make, who I love, where I live, how I worship.
I know, I know, you are thinking it has nothing to do with me. He just knows I’m the source of those pats and belly rubs and sustenance. I’m convinced there is more behind his responses. That’s why all dogs go to heaven.
How amazing it would be if, as human beings, we could love as unconditionally and with the same forgiveness as our pets! Whether that love be agape love (the love of God or Christ for humankind), philia love (friendship) or eros (erotic love)!
Our neighbors are any folks we share time and/or space with. Sorry, Jesus, but some of them…well…they just aren’t so lovable! What’s that you say? Love them as you love them? That’s where that agape thing comes in? Aren’t you kind of expecting a lot?
Oh. Yes. You are expecting a lot.
Perhaps Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day are okay after all. Seems I do need a reminder. And between you and me, God, once a year may not be often enough.
What are the rest of you thinking?