In the Twelfth Chapter of the Gospel according to Mark, it is reported that Jesus made the following references to love when asked which commandment is most important:
“The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel:The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. ’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself. ’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
The self-love to which Jesus refers is not the original sin of pride which is responsible for all other sins. Jesus’ reference to self-love recognizes that wanting to be healthy and happy and wanting adequate food, clothing and shelter is not evil. It is human nature and part of who we are at the core. Love of self is natural and common in all people.
Jesus reminds us that whatever we seek for ourselves because of our human nature, we are commanded to seek it for our neighbor … and seek it with the same passion and commitment.
As the New Year begins, let us reaffirm our love for our Creator and our neighbor by giving generously of our talents, our energy and our good fortune.