Donald R. Elly, M. Div.
Hate is, I believe, the world’s worst four letter word. Looking it up in the dictionary I found this definition: “to feel intense dislike, or extreme aversion or hostility.” When we truly hate someone or something, we usually want to avoid the person or group, or have nothing at all to do with them or the cause being espoused.
Hatred is growing today in our society. Intense feelings divide, polarize so we lose sight of values to unite us and bring us together. Such hate produces a loss of community. Many of our institutions are fractured by hate and they no longer serve the common good. If we are honest we become afraid of talking to one another.
What is the antidote to such hate? I want to recommend several insights, prompted by the interpretation and insights of Amy Jill-Levine from her discussion of the Parable in her book, Short Stories by Jesus. She notes that the Lawyer who sets out to test Jesus knows very well by the answer he gives to Jesus is straight from the Torah, “You will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind (intention), and your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27). In other words one is to love God with the totality of their being—nothing held back. Jesus even as he commends the lawyer in his knowledge of the law, says Levine, “reframes what is at stake by exhorting, Do this and live.”
The imperative “do” focuses not on a single action, but an ongoing relationship. The point is to “live now” and not to be focused on “eternal life.” The Lawyer wanting to look “right” compounds his error by asking “Who is my neighbor?” The question becomes a polite way of asking, “Who is not my neighbor?” or “Who does not deserve my love…or “Whom can I hate?” Jesus answer to him is “No one.” Everyone deserves that love—local or alien, Jews or gentile, terrorist, or rapist, everyone.” God’s love cannot be restricted. God’s love for Jesus includes our enemies—the ones we hate. The cycle of violence and hatred is broken as we let our enemy treat us as neighbor. Eternal life is inherited now as we love with no restrictions.
July 14, 2019; Cycle C; 5th Sunday of Pentecost
Lev. 19:18; Deut. 27:17; Psalm.82 Col. 1:1-14; *vLuke 10:25-37