Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Love thy neighbour as thyself

Love is a popular word within Christianity, in Scripture. Loving, not only ourselves, but also our neighbour and God is a ‘requirement’. How can we show our love for God, if we don’t even love our neighbour, our friend, our family? This has to be achieved first, before attempting to reach the higher stage of love, i.e. of loving our enemy. This latter achievement is not an easy task. Fr Sophrony Sakharov speaks about the issue of loving our neighbour:

‘To love our neighbour as ourselves, to live according to the commandment of Christ, will lead us to the garden of Gethsemane, where Christ prayed for the whole world. ‘Love thy neighbour as thyself’. It was given to me to understand this commandment in the form of a gigantic tree, of cosmic dimensions, whose root is Adam. Myself, I am only a little leaf on a branch of this tree. But this tree is not foreign to me; it is the basis of my being. I belong to it. To pray for the whole world is to pray for this tree in its totality, with its milliards of leaves. To follow Christ means to open oneself to the same consciousness as Christ, who bears in Himself the whole of humanity, the totality of the tree, without excluding a single leaf. If we acquire this consciousness, we will pray for all as for ourselves. . . In Christ, our consciousness expands, our life becomes unlimited. In the commandment ‘Love thy neighbour as thyself’, we must understand the words ‘as thyself’ in this way: every man, the ‘whole Adam’, is my being.’ [1] 

[1] Sakharov, Archimandrite Sophrony, Words of Life, (Essex, Stavropegic Monastery of St John the Baptist, 2010), pp. 21-22. 

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