There is always a “but.”
I want to lose ten pounds, but…
I want to learn Spanish, but…
I want to spend more time with my kids, but…
In today’s Gospel selection, Jesus inspires those who listen to him to say, “I want to follow you, but…I have to say good-bye to my family, or bury my father, or attend to some other urgent need that may delay me.”
We really do want to live good lives. In me writing this reflection or you reading it, we express a desire to love the Lord and follow the Spirit. But there is a voice deep inside that whispers, “But don’t ask too much of me, Lord!”
In his letter to the Galatians that we hear today, St. Paul clearly states: For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement, namely, You shall love your neighbor as yourself (also see Mark 12.31). There is no “but” after that statement. The command does not say love your neighbor as long you like her or agree with his politics. Each of us wants—and has a right—to be treated fairly, respected, and free from physical and emotional harm. And what I want and expect from others, I need to show others through kindness and respect.
We may all appear very different from one another, yet we are fundamentally the same. We are all human beings made in the image and likeness of God. So, in loving our neighbor as ourselves, in both instances, we are loving God. I can’t imagine any one of us saying, “I love you, God, but….”