Irenic Thoughts

Irenic. The word means peaceful. This web log (or blog) exists to create an ongoing, and hopefully peaceful, series of comments on the life of King of Peace Episcopal Church. This is not a closed community. You are highly encouraged to comment on any post or to send your own posts.


More than a Feeling

In tomorrow's Gospel reading Jesus is asked to name the greatest commandment. The questioner is not wondering about the Ten Commandments alone, for Moses Law found in the first five books of the Bible lists more than those. According to most ancient scribes, the Law contained 613 separate commandments. Some teachers then divided the 613 into 365 prohibitions (one for each day of the year) and 248 positive commands (one for each bone of the body). In this vivid and charming fashion, they indicated that the Law of God should govern all our days and all our bodily movements. It requires complete devotion

It is this sort of all encompassing law the questioner is asking about, wanting to know what matters most. Jesus replies,
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
This is the Cliff Notes version of the whole Bible. Jesus sums up all of the teachings of scripture saying that we fulfill God's will if we love God and love our neighbor as ourself. We need each other so much that the first thing God pronounced "not good" was loneliness (It is not good for man to be alone).

The love to which we are called is not merely a feeling. Love is an action and we can show loving actions to people we don't even like. Psychologist tell us though that this only works for so long as we get increasingly likely to actually like someone when we do nice things for that person (as long as they are not mean in return for the kindness). In the process, we are drawn closer to God.

Abba Dorotheos used the illustration of mankind being like a wheel. God is the hub, and people are the spokes. The closer we get to God, the closer we get to one another. But put another way, the closer we get to other people, the closer that brings us to God. Finally, there is an anonymous poem that puts it all together:
I sought my soul,
and the soul I could not see.
I sought my God and God eluded me—
I sought my neighbor and found all three.

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  • At 10/25/2008 10:07 AM, Anonymous kenny said…

    The last part of your post reminded me of this:

    Audio Adrenaline sez

    Whats the sense of hanging out with houseplants
    When, hey,
    I live right across the fence.
    And I thought to myself
    You know, thats a good point
    So I took my two houseplants, and
    I put them both back outside
    And me and my neighbor
    Well, we went out for a drive
    We talked about all the things
    That really matter most
    Like life and love and happiness
    And then the holy ghost

    Who says you're not supposed to talk about politics and religion? :)


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