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St. Paul is very direct in his letter to the Romans today about what is necessary in the following of Christ. (ROM 13: 8-10) He starts right out this morning with a clear imperative saying “Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another.” A rather shocking statement, I would guess, in that place and time – or even now. Then, as if they may not have understood, or in case they were distracted, he reminds his readers what he means by enumerating the tenets of the Commandments given to Moses on Sinai. After saying what is not allowed by the commandments (killing, stealing, coveting) he sounds like a parent saying “and whatever other commandment there may be…” as he shifts to the affirmative by saying what we must do. It’s the second half of what we know as The Golden Rule: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

I keep thinking of how this message must have been received – and how we ourselves receive it today. Unless we stop and allow it to enter deeply into our consciousness we will certainly miss the depth of meaning. The word “love” has become devalued in our day. We say we love our houses and our cars and our jobs and our new clothes…all possessions. It’s much more difficult sometimes to love our co-workers or our teenagers, or the driver who cuts us off on the highway…or even those who commit unspeakable crimes. Have you ever heard the saying;”Hate the sin but love the sinner?” All of that is included in Paul’s message, also known as the teachings of Jesus…All of it.

Some serious reflection necessary here.