As often as happened in my journey, I reach a time of reflection. The destination seems close, yet so far away. Then, a glimmer of hope appears, and I glimpse another path to take.
This week, I see another path to take in my journey. I have reached a point of contentment with the relationship between God and Humans, and I have reached a point of contentment between God and me. Many mysteries remain, but I am largely content with those mysteries.
The first, and perhaps primary, purpose of religion is the relationship between God and Humans. The second, and perhaps just as important, purpose of religion is how the relationship between God and Humans effects the relationship each of use has with one another.
The gospels state it this way “One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, ‘Which commandment is the first of all?’ Jesus answered, ‘The first is, “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” The second is this, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.’” (Mark 12:28-31 NRSV).
I am to the place of contentment with the first commandment, but I now struggle with the second. The questions I have are many, and here are but a few
- How does this instruction provide valid ethical guidance for the modern world?
- How does this instruction provide guidance for the person dealing with an abusive spouse or a family member with severe mental illness?
- How does this instruction provide guidance when we have no emotional or even friendly connection with those in our own neighborhoods?
- How does this instruction provide guidance when our cities are separated by economic class and we never get to know the struggles of anyone from outside our class?
- How does this instruction provide guidance when we may drop off food and supplies to those in need, but we have no way to make a long term emotional connection?
I am not sure exactly where to look for an answer. Perhaps, I need to study ethics as discussed by philosophers throughout the ages. Maybe it would be better to watch those who seem to have succeeded in loving their neighbor. Like always, I am not sure yet where this path will go, but it is a path I must take.