Today’s Gospel reading is from Mark 12: 28-34. In this passage, one of the scribes asked Jesus which is the first of all the commandments? Jesus replied, saying that the 1st is to love God with our whole heart, whole soul, whole mind, and all of our strength. The 2nd is to love your neighbor as yourself. Hmm, the first one I know I can do. The second one… sounds easy and simple, doesn’t it? HA! Nothing is farther from the truth with all of the complexities of ‘etiquette’ in our world today!
Today, unless you accept everyone else no matter what they believe and allow them to do things that you believe are wrong — then you aren’t a loving person. In fact, one example of this is regarding society’s view of sex. If you speak up and state that you believe that sexual intimacy should be shared only by people who are married and that if a couple isn’t married, they shouldn’t be living together — then you are ostracized as being out of touch with reality. If you go one step farther and state that you believe that marriage should be one man and one woman, you are then a bigot. All of this is decided based upon words — NOT actions. Even if you act in a loving manner to those who are not following these beliefs, it doesn’t matter. You are considered prejudiced and a bigot just because of your beliefs.
I heard a talk this morning on the radio about our call as Christians to confess our sins. The speaker talked about how most of us struggle just to get our actual sins out when confessing. But, have we looked at the second part of what we are commanded? We are not only to confess our sins, but we are also supposed to confess ‘the good that we failed to do’. So, what does that mean exactly?
The Spiritual Works of Mercy
To admonish sinners.
To instruct the ignorant.
To counsel the doubtful.
To comfort the sorrowful.
To bear wrongs patiently.
To forgive all injuries.
To pray for the living and the dead.
The Corporal Works of Mercy
To feed the hungry
To give drink to the thirsty.
To clothe the naked.
To visit and ransom the captives.
To shelter the homeless.
To visit the sick.
To bury the dead.
All Christians are called to do corporal and spiritual works of mercy. There has always been a pretty strong support for the corporal works within in the Christian community and society, but what about the spiritual works of mercy? Society tells us that we aren’t loving our neighbor if we admonish them for their sins. If we try to instruct them on God’s ways or counsel those who are doubting, all of this is wrong. We are told that we should keep our beliefs to ourselves and not force them on others. This stance of society is totally ignoring the first two spiritual works of mercy! Yes, we need to counsel, comfort, bear wrongs, forgive and to pray. But, we also need to admonish those who are sinning around us. We need to instruct those who are ignorant.
As a business owner/manager and employer in today’s world, I try to live the commandments — the original 10 as well as these 2 great commandments given by Christ. But, with all of the legal restrictions of what you can say, what you can’t say, what you ‘should’ say and to whom, and all of the other millions of little legal etiquette of being an employer, it isn’t so simple. For example, when a fellow business owner calls to ask for a reference for a previous employee, the law ties your tongue. Sometimes, I feel like being an employer is a tightrope walk! Just to take one of these calls turns my stomach into knots of fear about possibly saying something wrong and then having to deal with fallout for our business! Even being honest and not saying anything bad has gotten fellow business friends into whole heap loads of trouble. So, it makes me not want to even take these calls!! I do love my neighbor and want to help my neighbor however I can. But, the reality is that in these days, saying something you perceive as being ‘great’ and a ‘great review’ can be the exact opposite of what the other business is wanting to hear and might cause that person to not get the job. *sigh* As I said… it’s a minefield ready to blow someone into smithereens even when they are trying to walk the straight and narrow!
Sometimes, it feels like the same type of thing with our kids — especially teenagers today! You think that you are doing what they have told you they want, and then find out later that you weren’t really supposed to believe that what they said was really what they wanted. *bigger sigh*
Life isn’t easy. But, even though it isn’t easy to walk against the current of today’s complexities and social intricacies, I find that if I keep my eyes on Christ and keep on trudging against the current that is trying to pull me down, I can make progress towards heaven even if it is only small baby steps! After all, what else here is worth keeping our eyes/focus on?