Jesus gives us our two most important commandments today in the Gospel reading for today’s celebration of Holy Eucharist. Like many of Jesus’ teachings these two commandments are simple, yet difficult. Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength; love your neighbor as yourself. Simple, yet difficult. The main word these two commandments share is “love.” And when we love–truly love–we are in deep relationship with the other, in this case God and neighbor. At the heart of what God does in God’s creation is one operation: to create relationship in and through love. What are the things you love? Who are the people you love? Do those people or things bring you closer, or take you farther away from the love of God?
I remember “Native Son” by Richard Wright about a Black man who becomes a criminal due to a situation beyond his endurance. When he is sentenced to die, by an all White jury, he says to his defense attorney: something about how he didn’t have any regrets because he had treated him like a man–i.e. he had made him shoulder his responsibilities with tenderness. The effect on the reader is resurrected Jesus. This man is willing to die to be a man. To become a man in Christ. I think for one person to become a man or woman in Christ is just as brave and beautiful as to die for a cause like MLK. For to be a man or woman in Christ is not just sex but heroic virtue.
It is heroic virtue to love and to not profane another.