In a world filled with secular humanism, there’s a whole lot of “self” and not very much “other”. Certainly our Lord instructed us to “love your neighbor as yourself,” (Mark 12:31). And so in loving ourselves, we take a lesson in how it is that we are to love our neighbor. This bars us from any kind of narcissistic love, but causes the love of which we speak to be that which is good for our salvation first. And if we are concerned with our own salvation as a first priority (in our love for ourselves), then our love for our neighbor will also be love for them to seek THEIR salvation, as well.
The commandment given us by our Lord is not the first instance in Holy Scripture of this commandment. Its first occurrence is in Leviticus Chapter 19. There, in verses 17 and 18, are instructions on this love of neighbor. And the contents may surprise you, if you’re not familiar with the words:
“You shall not hate your brother in your heart.” This seems an easy commandment on the surface, but it is not so easy in implementation, is it? Look at the world around you. In the division that separates the country that we all love, I see countless signs in yards that say, “Hatred has no home here.” But the signs are immediately placed beside other signs which speak to allegiance with organizations which espouse anarchy, and the non-peaceful overthrow of not just our government, but our very society. One can only conclude that one or the other of the signs placed is specious.
“You shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him.” Bearing sin can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, we are not to bear anger (hatred) which would be sin to us. On the other hand, we cannot let unrighteous actions of our neighbor sway us into following them into unrighteousness.
“You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people.” We know that vengeance belongs to God alone, if He will extract it. It is not up to our will. Thus, if we hold no anger, we will not be tempted toward vengeance.
“But you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” We’ve already focused on these words, and their meaning does not change from the time that Leviticus was penned until nearly 700 years later when our Lord, the Word of God, Who gave the words originally, called on them again.
As Christians, we CAN make productive use of the emotion founded in hatred. We can hate the pandemic. We can hate cancer. We can hate those who persecute the Church. We can hate the wanton use of abortion, throughout the world certainly, but especially in our own country where 60 million babies have been martyred since abortion was legalized. We can hate these unhealthy and unrighteous elements of our lives while NOT hating those who recklessly spread disease, or NOT hating those who seemingly without conscience commit murder of the unborn. Their ACTIONS are anti-Church, and it shows that they “have not heard” the message of the Church.
Is that their fault, or is it ours?
Whichever the case, it is time for us to act like the people who carry the name of Christ. It is time to stand up for what is right. We will only be heard if we speak out. But let our words speak the Love that is Christ!