THE GOLDEN RULE
Across numerous cultures down through history one vision emerged as the prime mark of the highest form of humanity. It was the attitude of love. Notably in the millennium before Christ the simplistic codes of behaviour developed a deeper understanding to recognize that love was the essential dynamic that made sense of the orderly social codes. From Buddha, Confucius, Socrates, Old Testament prophets, the essential spirit of love was spoken of in similar words to form what we refer to as the Golden Rule, ‘To love your neighbour as yourself.’ Numerous scholars have spoken of such an awakening in the human mind as being the First Axial Period of History, that time when humans realized they were a spark of the divine.
For the Jewish people it included reference to this spark of the divine by speaking of the command to Love God and ones neighbour as oneself. These three, God neighbour and self were drawn together from the earlier teachings of Moses as the Jewish people sought to understand their 10 commandments. Firstly we find in Deuteronomy the command to love God with all your heart, mind soul and strength. This is the hallmark of the covenantal promise the Jews were to make with God.
In the book of Leviticus there is much detail on how to relate to others and we find here the coupling of loving neighbour as oneself. By the first century before Christ Judaism was well used to speaking of the love of God and ones neighbour as oneself. It was commonly debated amongst the Rabbi’s of this time which part was the greatest. So when the young lawyer approached Jesus to ask him which was the greatest of the commandments, he was trying to draw Jesus into a common debate of the rabbi’s.
Opinions, opinions, opinions. If we return to our political scene for a moment we might see a similar picture amongst our people and particularly our politicians. Like modern day Rabbi’s they are arguing over which is the better way to serve the people of Australia. And like Jesus we were being asked for our opinion.
As so often is the case Jesus opens up a whole new dimension of understanding. The lawyer starts by asking which was the greatest commandment. Jesus turns it back to the lawyer by asking him from his expertise what have you learnt. He quotes this great Golden Rule, to love God and ones neighbour as oneself. Jesus affirms his answer. Do this and you will live. The lawyer asks who is my neighbour, and this is the ultimate point of Jesus teaching.
THE GOOD SAMARITAN
Jesus tells the story of the Good Samaritan, the man walking through the rugged mountainous road from Jerusalem to Jericho. He is ransacked and robbed.Two religious leaders walk past him.While the foreigner is the one who stops and cares for the man. Jesus asks who was neighbour to the man.
The great insight of Jesus teaching is to be noted in this question of Jesus. The lawyer asks who is ‘neighbor’. Jesus, responds, Uh Uh. It’s not about who is my neighbour. That’s obvious. It’s all people.
To fulfil the way of love you don’t look out there. You look within. Where is your neighbourliness?
It could be put ‘tell me how comprehensive is your love for other people”.
Perhaps it’s just financially comfortable white AngloSaxon people like Ms Hanson thinks. The real issue of life is the journey of love. The obstacles to love are all found within us. This is the challenge that Jesus is presenting to the young lawyer.
Until we all take this interior journey of love as the way of life, then we remain vulnerable to self interest, society remains vulnerable to fragmentation,
relationships freeze in tension. The needy lie deprived.
So through this most fascinating most wonderful story we are all being challenged by Jesus to ask ourselves how neighbourly are we to the rest of his human family