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Love in action – the Golden Rule: Meditation for 6th Sunday after Trinity

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Readings: Holy Communion – Hos. 11:1-9; 1Jn. 2:8-17; Mark 12:28-34. Matins – Deut. 24:10-end; 1 John 3:13-end
In the Collect for today, we pray for “that most excellent gift of love, the true bond of peace and of all virtues, without which whoever lives is counted dead” before God. Love is the essence of life, such that life without love is not worth it. Love is the greatest commandment of all virtues. It is not in words but in works and actions. As James put it, “Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food.  If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?” (Jas 2:15-16). God has called us to love others as ourselves (Matt. 19:19; Mk 12:31). James described it as the Royal Law (Jas 2:8). But it is generally known as the Golden Rule – Treat others, as you would like them to treat you. The negative form (Don’t treat others as you would not like them to treat you) is also called the Silver Rule.

The golden rule is one rule that has universal application and endorsed by all the great world religions, as shown in their sacred books as follows:

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Christianity: “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 7:12)

Confucianism: “Do not do to others what you would not like yourself. Then there will be no resentment against you, either in the family or in the state.” (Analects 12:2)

Buddhism: “Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful” (Udana-Varga 5,1)

Hinduism: “This is the sum of duty; do naught onto others what you would not have them do unto you.” (Mahabharata 5,1517)

Islam: “No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself.” (Sunnah, 40 Hadith of an-Nawawi 13)

Judaism: “What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellowman. This is the entire Law; all the rest is commentary.” (Talmud, Shabbat 3id)

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Taoism: “Regard your neighbour’s gain as your gain, and your neighbour’s loss as your own loss.” (Tai Shang Kan Yin P’ien)

Zoroastrianism: “That nature alone is good which refrains from doing another whatsoever is not good for itself.” (Dadisten-I-dinik, 94,5)

Philosophers like Socrates and Aristotle also upheld the Golden Rule:
Socrates (436-338 BC): “Do not do unto others what angers you if done to you by others.”
Aristotle (384-322 BC) “We should behave toward friends as we would wish friends to behave toward us.”

However, unfortunately, out of selfishness and evil heart, many people do not only fail to live up to it, but also go further to act wickedly towards their neighbours. People in some of these religions even kill others ritually and religiously (in the name of religion – like the Boko Haram). It should not be so with Christians because Christianity is built on love, even for the unbelievers and enemies! This love is to be in practical terms – Love in Action.

The Ven. Dr. Princewill Onyinyechukwu Ireoba is the Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State.

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