We all know the great commandment, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’. It establishes the ground for right action on love and on knowledge of one’s self. All effective actions for social justice, all significant movements for political change, all collective steps towards environmental sustainability, need to be rooted in our personal knowledge of love.
But, what if I find in myself things that I do not love? What if I find that what I accuse others of doing or failing to do is also within my own capacities and that sometimes I too fail to act justly or sustainably? What if I discover, as Carl Jung said, “that I myself am the enemy who must be loved. What then?”
What then? Well, perhaps then I am freer than I was before this discovery. Perhaps then, awakened to my own need for love, I am more open to receive love from another. Perhaps then, as I am loved in my dark places, I can widen my love for others. Perhaps then the actions I undertake to build a better world for all will be more authentic and more effective.
Today in the Christian gospel we hear that Jesus proclaimed at the beginning of his ministry that he was sent to bring good news to those who are poor. This established acting for those who are poor and marginalized and advocating for our damaged earth as the priority for Christian life. It also means that God is available to us when we find ourselves poor, harbouring the enemy within us, and in need of love.
As I live into the way of engaged spirituality I am deepening in my awareness of how my actions for others are intimately connected to my own needs. Working for economic justice for all; trying to live simply so as to live sustainably on this good earth of ours; trying to wage peace in a world armed for violence and trying to build toward realizable hopes are all connected to my own needs. And sometimes I am the one who needs attention so that I am able to love and to act. The personal and the political are indeed connected and God is the midst of both. And this is good news.