The Liberal Catholic Universalist Church
I remember clearly the emotion that accompanied my realisation of what this truly meant. The sense of enlightenment, the aha moment. Possibly the answer to why there is so much suffering in the world, I thought.
Now you are possibly wondering what loving your neighbour as yourself has to do with suffering ... well, it's like this ... if you hate yourself, you hate your neighbour. If you cannot accept yourself as you are, you will not accept others as they are.
What Jesus was attempting to make us understand is that all relationships start from within us and mirror outwards. How we love or not, how we treat ourselves ... all contribute to how we react with others. If we are angry at ourselves, we show anger to others in some form. If we cannot accept who we are, we cannot accept others with the same characteristics.
In the text commonly known as the Sermon on the Mount (Gospel of Matthew chapters 5 - 7), Jesus explains in some detail how to understand and balance our inner life to enable us to relate to others appropriately.
This is probably one of the reasons behind the mystic approach that it is the inner life that is important in the spiritual life. Many of the spiritual disciplines deal with the inner life. From a right inner life, we find a right relationship with the external world.
So the real question is, how do you love yourself? Do you take care of yourself with kindness, understanding and compassion? Do you practise non judgement and acceptance of yourself, your thoughts, your emotions, your actions?
Fran Pilgrim, 8 March 2019