Jesus tells us to love one another, to love our neighbor as ourselves, even to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. And he makes clear that our “neighbor” includes people who think and worship differently from us. It is a lot easier to love people who are like us. This is hard teaching. Maybe Jesus was just crazy.
During the presidency of Barack Obama, there were many people who were very angry at him and his policies, who feared that he was bringing Socialism. Today, at the beginning of the presidency of Donald Trump, there are other people who are very angry at him and the policies he has advocated, who fear that he may be an American version of Adolph Hitler. Love? You’ve got to be kidding.
On Inauguration Day I was reading The Grace in Aging (2014) by Kathleen Dowling Singh, whose perspective is primarily Buddhist. I read:
The mind of anger often appears as judgment….Judging others, we shore up our own beliefs and assumptions. Judging others allows us to feel superior. That wish to feel superior is harmful. It feeds our fictional self, keeping us in ignorance. Judging others rips us out of interbeing and connection. It arises from ignorance and obstructs compassion….Judging puts out a directed negativity and adds to the toxicity of the world.
Singh ends that chapter encouraging us as we age to “hold the space for peace in the world.” Whether we are following her advice or following Jesus’ commandment to love one another, I don’t think it’s very comfortable. It requires being open and vulnerable, being aware of our limitations, respecting everyone as a beloved child of God who may well carry a piece of truth that needs to be heard. That’s challenging. Slogans and put-downs are a lot easier.
How do you discern Truth?
What does it mean to love those with whom you disagree?
Richard Rohr, in his Daily Meditation for Saturday, January 21, 2017, describes a prayer of the heart. “Next time a resentment, negativity, or irritation comes into your mind, and you want to play it out or attach to it, move that thought or person literally into your heart space…,” which is a place where “it is almost impossible to comment, judge, create story lines, or remain antagonistic.” Then open your heart into the heart of God.
For further reference:
“How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!” (See Psalm 133.)
“Indeed, an hour is coming when those who kill you will think that by doing so they are offering worship to God.” (See John 16: 1-4.)