Loving God and our neighbors the way we should requires much honesty.

Wednesday, 116/13

Our first reading calls on us to love others, while the Gospel bids us to put God’s interests above our own.

That is easier said than done. It calls on us to be free of self absorption, and that is a kind of liberation that can only be won by heavy toiling. There are two parts to the discipline to which we must give ourselves, and being honest plays a major role in both parts.

First, honesty demands that we open our eyes to how good God is. Brother Matthew was the doorkeeper at Kentucky’s great Trappist monastery, and over the years  he amused all visitors by saying the same words over and over. It was always, “God is good. God is good.”

Everything lovely -- pillowy clouds against a blue sky, a baby’s gurgling laughter, music that reaches our depths – all these  mirror God’s goodness.

Awareness of the deep goodness of the people around us doesn’t come on so strong. Still, we must appreciate their status as God’s beloved children, and we must value them as descendents of family histories that go back thousands of adventurous years.

(I once read how in some Jewish circles the evil of homicide is seen to consists in each person being the center of a whole world of family and friends, so that by killing one's self one also kills off that whole circle. In a somewhat similar line of thought any person you meet up with is the center of a large family of friends and relatives, so that by failing to love that one individual you are slighting his or her whole world.)  

Secondly, honesty should force us to see that we do not have the brilliances, the good looks or the stellar record that would justify our giving more attention to  ourselves than we give to God and to his  other children.

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