What’s the Point?


What’s the Point?

This Sunday’s gospel (Matthew 22:34-40) is one where, it seems to me, I somehow managed to both get the point and completely miss it at the same time.

A lawyer, figuring he has the upper hand, tests Jesus with a question intending to show him up and shut him up. “Teacher, which commandment in the Law is the greatest?”

 I can recite Jesus’ response by heart: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind… [and] you shall love your neighbour as yourself.”

(So much for the ‘gotcha’ moment, buddy. Nice try though.)

The first part is easy. (Well, mostly. I’ve been known to harbor a good grudge or two against the Holy Spirit.) Rule #1: Love God. Lots.

Got it. Check.

When I consider the second rule in the context of my vocation, it hangs like a flashing neon sign above my door. Love people. Be nice to them. Forgive them. Be generous. Be patient. Serve them with joy. Look out for their well-being. And for the most part, it’s not all that hard. More often than not, I’m surrounded by like-minded folks, so it’s reasonably easy to love my neighbour when they like me, agree with me, or share the same vision of the Kingdom that I do. And on the days when it’s not so easy, I’m reminded that Rule #2 still applies when people challenge me, confront me, or hurt my feelings (or worse, my pride).

Message received. I get the point. Lesson complete.

Well… not quite. If I really stop and think about it and I’m honest with myself, that rule needs a fair bit of practice (okay, a lot of practice) because I took it at face value and completely missed the reciprocity clause. I totally failed to grasp the fact that loving my neighbour as myself means loving myself as my neighbour.

I rarely offer myself the same love that I do to others. How often have I been angry with myself for making a mistake? How often have I been impatient with myself for not knowing how to do something? How often have I let negative self-talk dominate my inner non-stop monologue?  Often enough to know that I’ve clearly missed the point.

In order for me to be truly authentic in my vocation, I need to make the same allowances for my own humanity as I do for others. It means when I get something wrong, I need to be as peaceable with myself as I am with another when they do. It means being as patient with my own limitations as I am with someone else’s. It means giving myself a second chance when I don’t live up to my own expectations. And it means loving myself for the gifts that I do bring to my vocation, as much as I love the gifts that others bring to theirs.

It takes a special kind of talent to get the point and miss it at the same time. Fortunately, Jesus sets a good example, loving me as he loves himself, giving me the opportunity to try again. As I offer myself in my vocation, may I seek to love my neighbours as myself, and equally important, be blessed with the grace to love myself as I love my neighbours.

By Darcie Lich
Vocation Team – Oblate Associate
Vocation Team contact: linktr.ee/oblatevocations