Love your neighbor as yourself. ~Matthew 12:31
I was watching “Elmo’s World” with my grandson for the umpteenth time. The kids on the show were singing a song I’ve now heard enough times to sing along. Absentmindedly humming along while I was surreptitiously reading a novel, I suddenly listened to the words – “My name is you.” Out of the mouths of babes.
I remember a blogger once posed the question of whether we are our brother’s keeper. Yes, I answered, because we ARE our brother.
Jesus’s commandment to love others as yourself, along with the Golden Rule, is common to many faiths. We get the point. And in case we don’t, we are told not only to love our neighbors, but to love our enemies. The bar keeps getting higher.
Okay, so how do I love someone who seems so unredeemably unlovable? I’m thinking of the teens who recently shot a young man to death just because they were bored. Or the teens who just a few days later savagely beat an 88 year old WWII veteran to death for whatever little money he had in his wallet. Or the men who gang raped a woman on a bus, and the driver who did nothing to stop it.
I’m serious. How far past anger and fear and judgment and despair do I have to reach into my spirit to find compassion? Sometimes very far.
I read a story about a Tibetan monk who was crying as he was being beaten by Chinese soldiers. His attackers taunted him for crying, assuming that he was crying in pain and fear. No, he said, he was crying for their souls.
Can I cry for their souls? And if I can’t, then can I cry for mine?
A few days ago marked the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. A beacon of light in a world of senseless violence. A light calling us to love, to forgive, to reach out, to recognize our shared humanity, to find what will bring us closer, to heal ourselves.
When we find ourselves pulling back from someone or turning away, maybe we could turn towards, look closely, and say, “My name is you.”
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
~Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi
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