Something to think and pray about this week
Jesus’ teaching on the double great commandment does, however, raise at least two questions: What does loving your neighbour ‘as yourself’ mean? And how does the commandment to love relate to the Ten Commandments of the Decalogue? The command to love one’s neighbour ‘as oneself’ has often been taken to be a comparison, meaning that we should love our neighbour as much as we love ourselves – with the rather self-serving conclusion for some people that we are thus indirectly justified by the Bible in actually loving ourselves. Alternatively, and more plausibly, we should regard the command to love our neighbour as ourselves as not a comparison, but in fact as an identification of our neighbour with ourselves. We see Jesus doing this when he promised that at the final judgement he would reward or punish people according to how they had behaved toward the starving or the poor or a stranger, or the naked or sick, or those in prison, with all of whom Jesus identified himself: “Just as you did it to one of the least of my family… , you did it to me”(Matthew 25: 31-45). Likewise, here we are to identify with our neighb our as being one with us, part of our own self. “You shall not hate in your heart anyone of your kin…But you shall love your neighbour as yourself” (Leviticus 19: 17-18).
Excerpted from Glimpses of the Gospels: Theological, Spiritual and Practical Reflections by Jack Mahoney SJ