“It is easy to love the people far away. It is not always easy to love those close to us. It is easier to give a cup of rice to relieve hunger than to relieve the loneliness and pain of someone unloved in our own home. Bring love into your home for this is where our love for each other must start.”~ Mother Teresa
A few weeks ago, the Grands came and spent their first overnight. The air mattress took up half of our living room. Piled high with pillows, blankets, stuffed animals and an occasional, rather large, choc lab or two jumping into the mix, they played, drew pictures, giggled and laughed until finally…Grandma and Papa gave the thumbs up to the start to “movie night”. Popcorn crumbs. Stray pieces of paper. A cold nose of a lab pressed into tiny hands. By 9:30, both were sound asleep and content. Love danced, much as David did, around our home in a big way.
I love Mother Teresa’s quote for this reason. Love in the home teaches love for those outside the home. But as we all know, it is not always easy. After all, people are different. Different colors. Different beliefs. Different mindsets. Different everything. There is not one person that is the exact duplicate of someone else. Buckeyes falling from a buckeye tree. To love someone that we totally dislike is…sometimes…lol…most times, one enormous, challenging, overpowering test thrown into our life journey. To kill – whether it is emotionally, physically, spiritually, verbally – hits all of us at one time or another.
“You shall not murder.” Ex 20:13
In the Old Testament, God wrote upon the tablets a pretty simple concept. Don’t kill anybody physically. Jewish tradition still looks at in a fairly straight forward way. Don’t physically harm anyone. I like to think that these were simple commands because the Jewish people were babies in Faith. When we are raising babies, we don’t use long complicated stories or sentences to get our point across. Everything is stated in the simplest terms possible. “NO!” “STOP!” “OK!” “GO” The Jewish people were the first to stand on their faith in Jehovah-Tsid-Kenu. By the time of the New Covenant when Rabbi Yeshua walked this earth, He could already see where we were headed. There were already many ways to destroy a life. So He used a more complicated parable to support and expand this radical concept – LOVE, PRAY FOR YOUR ENEMIES.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matt 5:43-48
When we watch the news and see all the pain, degradation and mutilation that humans do to each other, we often feel anger and revenge thoughts enter into our sphere. When a loved one shatters a vow, a trust we have placed in them, those thoughts appear just as strongly. Yet, thankfully, most of us never resort to a physical murder. We’ve become pretty sophisticated. We use psychological or emotional “murder” instead. A FB post full of a few choice words – retaliation (an eye for an eye) – revealing a secret or two. “Killing” words can be pretty damaging these days. When I’m hurting I force myself to start looking for positive words instead of concentrating on all the injustice of the world that can be flashed across all our screens in high definition video – or living through a more personal bump in my life road (that feels like I’m watching a high definition video). I kick my rear end in gear and into the book of Matthew and remind myself about the commandments of the New Covenant or cry as I sing the Psalms in my heart. The promises that Our Father says over and over reassure me, and I can pray with a healing heart.
Jewish tradition has another neat way of looking at things. Their Sages have written that as one sleeps, their souls ascend to Heaven. While they are there, they record in Heaven’s books all the things that they did during their day. Then they sign the book. Traditionally, as practicing Jews say the Shema, (“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” Deut 6:4-5,) they are also thanking God for returning their soul at the start of a new day.
If we all thought we were traveling to Heaven at the end of our day to write about all the things we did or said, would it make a difference? Would it make “Thou Shalt Not Kill” (meaning more than the physical act), more real to us? Would it make it easier to obey? I have found that I like thinking about this Jewish tradition. Traveling to Heaven each night, writing my part of the daily human existence in the Book of Life, signing my name at the bottom, and then thanking God when I awake in the morning seems like a fantastic way to start each day of my life. Wisdom and discernment make the sixth commandment a little easier to obey. Just another choice.