I have been saying for a week or two that Jesus’ refrain to “Love your neighbour” is coming into its own. It is no longer a sentimental phrase but a life changing revolutionary act.
This particular week “Love your neighbour” could actually save people’s lives.
These Coronavirus days cannot be navigated by our normal intuitions. We need to park our the normal behaviours, that come far too naturally, and think carefully about every action we take.
This is not so much about protecting yourself from the virus - though that is absolutely necessary.
This is about making sure that we do not carry the virus into the presence of the most vulnerable.
It is about all of us working together to contain the spread of the virus so that the health service has the capabilities to care for those of us who get it.
There is a famous story of a monk whose monastery was in going through frictions and break down in relationships. He decided to take a break at a neighbouring monastery. The relationships there were so harmonious that after a week he arranged an appointment with the Abbot. He asked the Abbot how he kept such a united monastery?
“Oh it is easy,” said the Abbot, “I have told them that one of them is Jesus.”
If you think that one of your number is Jesus but do not know which one then you will treat everyone as if it is Jesus. That will smarten up behaviour. Clever Abbot!
I have heard someone say that we should be living these days as if we have the virus. If we knew we had the virus that might make us stop and think about our behaviour.
Perhaps we would see less selfishness going on around us.
Perhaps we wouldn’t be so blasé about where we go and how many we gather among.
Perhaps we would take social distancing seriously.
Perhaps we wouldn't clear the shelves of food.
Perhaps we would only travel when we had to.
Perhaps we would stay put and sacrifice that old life we used to live for a short time so that as many of us as possible might get that life back again.
Perhaps all the decisions we take might be about others not ME.
Love your neighbour is suddenly the most potent refrain in the whole wide world.
Love your neighbour actually means DO NOT KILL YOUR NEIGHBOUR.
Most medical experts are suggesting that this might be the week that the virus could spread most. There might be no better week in your entire life to love your neighbour!