The Golden Rule of Christ
Feb 25, 2019
Jesus said to his disciples: “To you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”
In the gospel for this Seventh Sunday of the Year, we hear the heart of the gospel being taught to us. Jesus teaches us to love our enemies, be good to those who hate us, pray for those who don’t treat us well. These teachings hit us at the gut level. It goes against our natural human reactions. When we’re being attacked or mistreated, we naturally want to go on the defensive, find ways to get back at someone, or run away from the person or situation all together.
The teaching of this Gospel is the Golden Rule of Christ’s teaching. It is at the heart of Christ’s teaching. This beautiful but difficult teaching of Christ reflects the Shema, the ancient Jewish prayer, a centerpiece to the morning and evening prayer of Jewish people.
The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your might. (Dt. 6. 4-9)
This is what we’re doing when we follow the Golden Rule of Christ. We’re loving not only the person in front of us, but also our enemies, those we may not get along with, those who have hurt us, those who hurt those we love, those who hurt our brothers and sisters, our fellow man. When we love them and pray for them, we are loving God, loving Christ in them. Jesus calls us to an unconditional love of our enemies and persecutors and a boundless compassion for those in need.
Love one another as He has loved us. (Jn. 13. 34)
Striving to follow the Golden Rule is not only good for our spiritual well-being but also for our physical well-being. One of our natural reactions to being attacked is anger. When we think about it, anger can be bad for us physically as well as emotionally. When we’re not able to manage or remedy our anger and other heavy emotions, we can start to have reactions to our bodies, headache, digestion problems, insomnia, anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, which can even lead to even more serious health problems.
All of us have many things in our own lives, families, work, not to mention in the news in the world around us, to cause us much justified fear, anxiety, and anger. But our Lord calls us to be imitators of Himself. He has given us His Golden Rule, loving our enemies and doing good to those who hurt us. He showed us how to do this throughout the Gospel, but ultimately by praying for those who put Him to death.
Father, forgive them they know not what they do.
This Rule points us in a clear direction. Let us treat others with the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated. Let us seek for others the same possibilities which we seek for ourselves. Let us help others to grow, as we would like to be helped ourselves. In a word, if we want security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities. The yardstick we use for others will be the yardstick which time will use for us. The Golden Rule also reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development. - Pope Francis
God bless you and your families,
Father Aidan, OSB