13:1 Let mutual love continue. 13:2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it. 13:3 Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; those who are being tortured, as though you yourselves were being tortured.
This week’s lectionary from Hebrews has struck me deeply as it provides such a contrast to the divisiveness that exists within our country right now. There is no mutual love. We have kids and parents who are our neighbors imprisoned and instead of identifying with them, there is often defense for why they deserve to be there. This is not the kind of community the author of Hebrews envisioned for those who were seeking to come together to work out what it meant to live following in the footsteps of Jesus Christ.
As I reflect on why and how we arrived at this place, I find myself wanting to blame leadership, those who voted for the current leadership, and those who continue to defend the decisions of the leadership. By blaming, I am able to detach myself from the responsibility of where we are. It provides me relief, but not relief for those who are suffering.
We can’t offer mutual love to our neighbors of to those who are imprisoned until we find love for ourselves. We know that we are not at home or at peace with ourselves because of the opioid epidemic that is taking the lives of so many individuals and so many families. Right here in South Carolina, lies the center of this crisis. A recent study revealed that 3 out of every 4 Americans are considered overweight or obese, increasing the occurrence of heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, and heart disease.
We are not well.
We do not love ourselves. We overmedicate and try to find self-love in other places only to realize we are hungry for more and deeper meaning in our lives. We want to be connected to each other and to the Divine, but we settle for something surface-level and fleeting.
Mutual love begins with finding a way to love ourselves wholly and fully recognizing that we are beloved children of God where the Divine breath resides. When we fully accept this, then we simply can’t look at others the same way. We feel their suffering. We feel their loneliness and once we feel these things, we find ourselves overwhelmed with love for them.
Let mutal love continue.