Love is a verb, not a noun, an action and not a sentimental Hallmark greeting. It goes beyond tokens of love -- diamond rings, red roses, Godiva chocolates. And it certainly goes beyond professions of love or even promises to love for better or worse, in sickness or in health, until Death do us part...
St. Paul claims: "4Love is patient; love is kind; love is not jealous or boastful or arrogant5or rude. It does not insist on having its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;6 it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.7It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things" (1 Cor 13:4-7). Love "is," Love "is not," Love "does," Love "does not"; it "rejoices," "bears all things," "believes," "hopes" and "endures" -- all these are verbs. And Shakespeare, in Sonnet 116, writes that Love "is an ever-fixed mark/ That looks on tempests and is never shaken." Love, therefore, "is" constant.
Love is a verb. Love is serving on the front lines as a health care worker, a first responder, a teacher, an essential worker... Love is taking to the streets to protest injustice, speaking truth in a climate of lies, demanding integrity in cesspit of bribery and corruption, weeping for all those who have lost their lives to the current pandemic -- or for those who have lost loved ones, jobs, businesses, homes, dreams, financial stability ...
Love is loving one's neighbor as oneself. Love is wearing a mask. With the prediction that the next 4 months will see the COVID-19 mortality rate in the U.S. rise to 400,000, it's the most loving thing we can do...
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Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; you shall not kill; you shall not steal; you shall not covet,” and whatever other commandments there may be, are summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence, love is the fulfillment of the law.
According to legend, Hillel the Elder, the great Jewish sage (110 BCE-10 C.E.) was approached by a Gentile who said, "I'll gladly accept the Jewish faith, provided you can teach me the entire Torah while standing on one leg." Now, he had already been thrown out of another Rabbi's house for presenting the same challenge, so he was either an insolent prankster or a committed spiritual seeker. Hillel treated him as the latter, replying,"Do not unto others what you do not wish that others do unto you.That is the whole Torah. Everything else is only commentary. Go and learn!"
Hillel's message -- The Golden Rule-- appears in all the world's major religious traditions, not just in Judaism or Christianity. The first known version, in fact, dates to the Middle Kingdom of Ancient Egypt (c. 2040–1650 BC), while, in our own era, it is one of the key statements in Towards a Global Ethic, the most important document arising from the 1993 Parliament of the World's Religions. The statement reads:"We must treat others as we wish others to treat us. We make a commitment to respect life and dignity, individuality and diversity, so that every person is treated humanely, without exception."
When St. Paul writes, "Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law," he is not only speaking from within the wisdom of his own Jewish tradition but also from a foundational spiritual truth: to be truly spiritual, truly religious, we must love.
Love is the essential lens through which we must view the state of the nation and the state of the world. Are our national and international policies in alignment with Love? Are we tending to the poor and marginalized in our society? Are we opening our doors to refugees and the oppressed and, if so, how are we treating them? Are we speaking out against all forms of discrimination and hatred? Are we the advocates for the voiceless? Or are we using religion to justify our cruelty, warping it into a weapon of control, distorting it to demonize the innocent while canonizing the undeserving?
Here in the U.S., mass evictions have already begun with the expiration of the unemployment bonus. Families in luxury SUV's are now travelling to food banks as they have gone through their savings and no longer have income. Suicides, domestic violence and crime are on the rise, as people move into despair. What is the answer to this? Love. As the Beatles crooned, "All you need is Love, Love, Love is all you need."