Daily Office Readings for Tuesday of Proper 21: Year 1
‘In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets:” (Matthew 7:12).
This instruction from our Lord Jesus is the other side of a Jewish teaching which instructs us, “That which is hateful to you, do not do to another; that is the entire Torah, the rest is commentary. Now, go study.” (Shabbat 31a, 6) This is the teaching of Rabbi Hillel when he was asked to explain the whole Torah while standing on one foot.
In both cases the language calls for us to empathize with others. Both lessons call for us to identify with the ones whom we are talking to, or conducting business with. Jesus says to treat others like you want to be treated. This is known to us as the Golden Rule. Hillel says, that in your own experience, if something is unpleasant to you, do not cause it to happen to anyone else. In both cases it is “other” related.
I often remember the word “Joy” as a guiding reminder of my day-to-day relationship with people. In this case J-O-Y stands for Jesus, Others, and Yourself. In this way I am reminded to put Jesus first, then the other (whoever that might be), and then your, or myself. I try, but I will confess that I don’t always remember the joy of JOY.
There is a caution about not letting the concern for the other be something that will be harmful or hurtful to them, to others, or to ourselves. Every rule of life has to have certain exceptions or cautions that must be applied so that real joy will prevail. Our Lord Jesus explains that the Golden Rule was the intent of the law and the teaching of the prophets for as long as we have had a relationship with God.
We must be careful in not assuming that because we lean a certain way in life, like perhaps enjoying social events and humor, we shouldn’t assume others do as well. So we can’t take this rule which says, “Do onto others as you would have them do onto you,” as a license to force what we like on others. I think we need to first understand the other and appreciate what he or she likes and then, if possible, help them with that. Again, empathy, the learning of the other is so important. Understanding someone is learning to love them more deeply. Love is the real intent of the Golden Rule.
As we listen to what the Spirit is saying to us, let us live to love, to serve, and to teach, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John