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Love As Thyself

[II Cor. 11:31–12:9; Luke 6:31–36] The fun­da­men­tal, orig­i­nal command­ ment is: love! It is a small word, but it express­es an all-encom­pass­ing thing. It is easy to say: you must love, but it is not easy to attain love to the nec­es­sary degree. It is also not exact­ly clear how to attain it; this is why the Sav­iour sur­rounds this com­mand­ment with oth­er ex­ plana­to­ry rules: love as thy­self; and as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them like­wise. Here is shown a degree of love that one can call bound­less; for is there any lim­it to one’s love for one­self? And is there any good which one would not want for him­self from oth­ers? Mean­while, how­ev­er, the instruc­tions are not impos­si­ble to ful­fil. The mat­ter depends upon hav­ing per­fect com­pas­sion toward oth­ers, to ful­ly trans­fer their feel­ ings to your­self, to feel the way they feel. When this occurs, there will be no need to point out what you must do for oth­ers in a giv­en sit­u­a­tion: your heart will show you. You must only take care to main­tain compas­ sion, oth­er­wise ego­ism will immedi­ ate­ly approach and return you to it­ self and con­fine you in itself. Then you will not lift a fin­ger for anoth­er, and will not look at him, though he might be dying. When the Lord said: love thy neigh­bor as thy­self, He meant that our neigh­bour should be in us, that is, in our heart, instead of our own selves. If our “I” remains in there as before, we can­not expect any­thing good to come of it.

Saint Theo­phan the Recluse.