“LOA, As I Love Myself?” You’re Kidding

The Jewish faith has six-hundred and thirteen commandments, Christians narrowed it down to ten and Jesus winnows it further with two by saying loving God above all else and loving your neighbor as yourself. The Jews write a lengthy book on how to live life and Jesus sends us a powerful postcard. Go figure.

short-yellow-lMy mother would tell me that “I’m getting too big for my britches,” when I thought too much of myself. I’ve never owned a pair of britches. Jesus questions us by saying, “If you cannot love yourself then how can you extend love to another?” The Church would surely tell us, “Love yourself? Are you kidding?” Perhaps, “‘Kinda like’ yourself would be okay but never love yourself.” Or the Church may say, “Try ‘sort of’ like yourself, try that on for size but never, ever think of loving yourself.” That’s the Church talking to us, not me. If I took a poll here in church of how many of you, “Love yourselves,” 80% of you would say, “No” in deference to the teachings of the Catholic Church. But that’s not what Jesus is asking of us.

But back to my small britches. If I was clever enough at that young age, I might have replied to my mother, “Then why don’t you buy me some larger britches to fit me.” By that time, the soap would have appeared. It was either Dove or Ivory, I’m not sure.

That’s what thinking “highly of yourself” costs. A bar of soap firmly inserted into a youngster’s mouth by a frustrated mom. If my britches are getting too big, then that means I have more love within myself to share with others – that new commandment that Jesus gave us. So to all of us – keep your britches tight with God’s love for you and the love for yourself in order to share that love with others.

But wait! Jesus gave us an existing commandment plus a new one. “Love your neighbor at yourself” is not among the Christian’s 10. That would make then make the Jewish commandments 614, Christians 11 and Jesus 1 plus l. (And you thought Packers scores were hard to remember!)

If you’re still with me on this then you’re better at math than I am. The question asked of Jesus is to tell which one, of the many 613 is the greatest commandment and Jesus gives him two. And the second one remains a doozy. (You don’t hear the word “doozy” very much. I’ve had a cold these past two weeks, and I tell people, “It’s a doozy of a cold.” Meaning it’s big. I guess that’s what Jesus means by the second command, “It’s a doozy folks.”)

The Good Lord could have chosen other scripture passages to make his point. Consider Jesus saying, “Love one another as I have loved you.” We get that. Or, Jesus could have shortened the second by saying, “Love one another.” We get that one too. But, no, Jesus didn’t get it. He begins with ourselves and then extends that love to others. Not the reverse, which we all so dearly believe. Jesus is simply saying that, “You can’t give what you do not have.” If there is minimal self-love living within you, then you only have minimal love to share with some one else.

Jesus added this new commandment to equal or surpass all of our shortening britches.

—Love one another more than we do not love ourselves and see what happens.
—Love one another the way we wished to be loved and see what happens.
—Love one another in spite of ourselves and watch what happens to loving ourselves.
—Love one another as much as we can and some of that love may come back to fill up
our voids.
—Love one another so much so that we return home and recover the unending love that
God has for each of us.

Sorry, Mom, you were wrong. Wearing my tightening britches and those I touch, influence and affect through my thoughts, words and deeds fits me just fine.

 

Books by Fr. Joe Jagodensky, SDS. All available on Amazon.com
“Soulful Muse,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
Living Faith’s Mysteries,”
inspirational reflections on the Christian seasons
of Advent/Christmas & Lent/Easter
“Spiritual Wonderings and Wanderings,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
“Letters From My Cats,”
a collection of letters written by my cats over twenty years
“Bowling Through Life’s Stages with a Christian perspective,”
Bowling as a metaphor for religion and growing up

About Rev. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.

A Roman Catholic priest since 1980 and a member of the Society of the Divine Savior (Salvatorians). www.Salvatorians.com. He is associate pastor of partnering parishes, Christ King and St. Bernard parishes in Wauwatosa, WI.
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