Ask, and you will receive; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened. For everyone who asks, receives; whoever seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Would any of you give a stone to your son, when he asks for bread? Or give him a snake, when he asks for a fish? However bad you may be, you know how to give good things to your children. How much more, then, will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
So, do to others whatever you would that others do to you: there, you have the law and the prophets.
Today’s gospel reading ends with what has been called over the centuries the Golden Rule: “Do to others whatever you would want that others do to you. There you have the law and the prophets.” In other words, this command of Jesus summarizes the whole Bible and the whole will of God in a nutshell.
However, it is easy to misunderstand this Golden rule in the direction of the self-serving motto: smile at the world and the world will smile back at you. This would completely betray the intention of Jesus. We do not treat other people well so that other people treat us well in return.
This Golden Rule is what we call in highbrow talk a heuristic principle—from the Greek verb heuriskein, to find. It works like this. In order to find out how to love my neighbor in a particular situation, I ask myself this question: if I were presently in my neighbor’s shoes what would I want people do to me? The answer will then come out loud and clear: help me carry this load, give me your seat, help me with this income tax form, babysit my kids, etc. Then I will treat the other person as I would want to be treated in his/her situation. The Golden Rule is a quick way to find out how to love.
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