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Love Thy Neighbor

“The standard of judgment is uncalculated mercy toward others. The works produced by faith are emphasized, for saving faith always produces righteous works. What we do reflects our true inner state…To see Christ in everyone is the fulfillment of the great commandment to love your neighbor as yourself.” (Orthodox Study Bible, Matthew 25:31-46, Matthew 25:40)

“True participation lies at the heart of all worship and much else in our lives. A marriage, at its best, is a participation, a literal sharing in the life of the other. The language of Scripture describes a spouse as “bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.” What each does affects the other, both for good and for ill. The same is true for other relationships to lesser extents. St. Silouan said, “My brother is my life.” This participation is the very nature of love itself. We are commanded to “love your neighbor as yourself.” There can be no other form of love. Scripture describes the knowledge of God as a participation – it is a sharing in His life. God can never be the “object” of our love for He is not an object. Because knowledge of God is by participation, Christ can say, “This is eternal life, that they might know Thee… and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent.” (Jn. 17:3) This, of course, is a great frustration to atheists who claim that God does not exist because they cannot perceive Him as object. The emptiness of modern life presumes that there is no participation anywhere, only life as an object among objects. Little wonder that modernity thrives on violence (if people are objects, then we can do violence without damage to ourselves).” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“…the path to eternal life runs through our neighbors, especially those we are inclined to overlook, disregard, and even despise. How we treat the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, the prisoner, and our enemies, reveals the true state of our souls. How we relate to them reveals how we relate to our Lord…When we mindfully embrace the struggle to live according to love of God and neighbor, which are the greatest of the commandments, and not according to self-centered desire, we open ourselves to know and experience Christ from the depths of our souls…We do not have to abandon our daily responsibilities in order to do so…Since the Savior is both fully divine and fully human, every aspect of our human existence may become radiant with the divine glory, if we will offer ourselves to Him for healing and hold nothing back. Doing so requires a great struggle and constant vigilance against the blindness that our passions so easily bring to our souls.” (Fr. Philip LeMasters)

“May our God, who is so good, give us good disposition of heart, that we might gain some benefit from every single person, and never think badly of our neighbor. Even if our own state of mind is such that we do think, or suspect, ill of our neighbor, let us try as quickly as we can to change those thoughts into something kind and beautiful. For if we try never to notice anything bad in our companions, that disposition soon changes, with God’s help, into a state of virtue that is truly, well-pleasing to God.” (St. Dorotheos of Gaza)

“This love of our neighbor is the only door out of the dungeon of self.” (George MacDonald)

“Christ’s parable of the Good Samaritan sets a standard for how Christians ought to treat those around them: as neighbors. The neighbor is anyone around us to whom we can be neighborly and extend help when it is in our power to do so. We don’t define ‘neighbor’ as being someone ‘like me’ or someone whom I like, agree with, have common values and interests or live near. The neighbor is every single person we come across to whom we can be neighborly – show compassion and concern and offer aid.” (Fr. Ted Bobosh)

“It is sobering how easily we can corrupt any good thing, including faith in Jesus Christ, into just another form of self-serving idolatry. Some people fall into the delusion of thinking that they love God and neighbor, when in reality they use religion to serve only themselves and the false gods of this world. One symptom of doing so is to narrow down the list of people who count as our neighbors so that we excuse ourselves from serving Christ in all who bear His image and likeness. When we do so, we disregard not only them, but our Lord Himself, the God-Man born for the salvation of all. Our actions then reveal that we do not truly have faith in Him because we seek to justify ourselves by serving nothing but our own vain imaginations.” (Fr. Philip Lemasters)

“Love of God, means to love Him with all our heart, mind and soul. Love of neighbor plain and simple means to use all our heart mind and soul to desire and work for the good and welfare of our neighbor. We are reminded of the wisdom of St. Isaac the Syrian…"… Among all God's actions there is none which is not entirely a matter of mercy, love and compassion: this constitutes the beginning and end of His dealing with us." May I add this should be the beginning and end of our relationships with all mankind in which we are all made in God's image. Those who have offended most egregiously and performed the most horrific of offenses are to be loved the most.” (Fr. George Morelli)

“…we are not to verbally attack those whose ideas we don’t agree with in the community, but instead we are called to offer repentance for them!  We are in love to pray that God will forgive them their faults and acknowledge in our own hearts some blame for their faults…The saints are required to offer repentance not only on their own behalf but also on behalf of their neighbor, for without active love they cannot be made perfect… In this way the whole universe is held together in unity, and through God’s providence we are each of us assisted by one another.” (St. Mark the Ascetic)

“In Christ’s teaching, attention is given to the inner life: we are to love our neighbors, our enemies, and to do good even to those who hate us. What kind of person loves their enemies? That kind of person lives as a revelation of true virtue? Shame studies show that rather than enduring the experience of shame, people most often transform their shame into anger or sadness. Both of these responses are an accurate description of our public mood. We have become the kind of people dominated by anger and sadness: we have become the kind of people who inhabit and perpetuate a shame-based culture.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“This second commandment…”You shall love your neighbor as yourself”, or more clearly, “as being yourself.” It is often misinterpreted, “You shall love your neighbor as you love yourself,” which destroys the force of the statement. How much we love ourselves is not the standard by which Christ is calling us to love others. Rather, we are called to love our neighbor as being of the same nature as we ourselves are, as being created in God's image and likeness just as we are. As the Fathers teach, we find our true self in loving our neighbor.” (Orthodox Study Bible, Matthew 22:39)

“…when we harm another, we not only harm the image of God, but we, in fact, do harm to our own selves.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“We are to seek Christ in everyone, from the holiest of saints down to the most depraved souls.” (OCPM 12/28/2017)

“There are people who love themselves in a narcissistic way because they love the false self of their own imagination and making; and then there are those who love themselves because they have come to know Christ and love themselves because they have experienced His love. The latter are able to love others in the way Jesus commands when He said, “love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12)” (Sacramental Living Ministries)

“Christ came chiefly for this reason, that human beings might learn how much God loves them, and might learn this so that they might begin to love Him by whom they were first loved, and so might love their neighbors at the bidding and after the example of Him who made Himself man’s neighbor by loving him, when instead of being His neighbor he was wandering far from Him.” (St. Augustine)

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