by Rev. Richard Rohr
If our love of God does not directly influence, and even change, how we engage in the issues of our time on this earth, I wonder what good religion is. “God talk” becomes an opaque screen in which we see only reflections of ourselves — instead of any kind of true enlightenment or Light. “Anyone who says she loves God, and hates her brother or sister, is a liar” (1 John 4:20). None of us wants to be a liar, yet the high goals of religion make deceit and denial almost inevitable for all of us. (Read Paul’s attempts to describe this paradoxical phenomenon in Rom. 7:7-25). For all o,f us, the daily question is this, “Have I even begun to love?”
Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:38). These two commandments mirror one another. How you love God is how you love your neighbor, and how you love your neighbor is how you love God. In one of his most famous stories, Jesus concretely illustrates this definition of “neighbor,” making a Samaritan — a foreigner — a living example of one who knows how to be neighborly, even to his own isolationist and un-neighborly religion (Luke 10:29-37). As always, Jesus’ teaching is highly subversive to both our private egos and our common cultures.