I wonder if it also has to do with learning to love oneself too? As I learn to love God – and He does seem to have explicitly given me this time in my life to not be actively involved in any volunteering (this goes against the grain – like a child I want to stamp my feet and yell “why?”) – anyway, as I learn to love God, so I learn how He sees me.
‘I am my beloved’s and he is mine.’
This enables me to see Him in others, as well as for Him to spill over from within me. I wonder if I have to go through this process because I have had such a difficult life – where I learned that I was less than worthless, valueless. Maybe this is not as hard a thing to learn for everybody? I don’t know. But I do know that ‘love your neighbour as yourself’ can’t work unless you know how to love yourself. Otherwise, despite the best intentions, you are pouring yourself out and have nothing left to fill you up and then you become worn out and drained and sad.
Which comes first: love of God or love of neighbour?
The saints have put the question in various ways. For example, Saint Bernard says,
It is surely justice to share our natural gifts with those who share our nature.
But if we are to love our neighbours as we ought, we must have regard to God also: for it is only in God that we can pay that debt of love aright. Now a man cannot love his neighbour in God, except he love God Himself; wherefore we must love God first, in order to love our neighbours in Him.
It is true and easily seen, that from the point of view of the value of the love in ourselves and the ultimate, final focus, we must love God “first”.
However, what about first in time? Not first in value, but first in time. Saint Bernard’s own words tend…
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