If we seek to apply the biblical axiom ’love your neighbor as yourself’ to ethnic communities, then we can phrase it ’love your ethnic neighbor as yourself’. This fundamental idea of scripture, indeed the second command next only to loving God’, assumes that we do in fact love ourselves. Loving oneself is not wrong, it is fundamental to our nature and being as humans, as God created us and intends for us. Loving oneself *too* much, of course, is when a good thing goes wrong. But loving oneself too little can also be unhealthy. We seek balance, self-awareneness and self-control in all things.
With love of self in balance, grounded in love for God, we are called upon to extend such love to others, in this case ethnic others. One of the most beautiful passages of scriptures capturing both of these angles, and even a third, is Lk 7:5 - "elders of the Jews" come to the Jewish Jesus not just casually asking, but "pleading with him" to heal the servant of a Roman centurion on grounds that "he loves our nation and has built us a synagogue." With its reference to "synagogue," this passage is rich in thought for interreligious relations both in Jesus’ day and our own global world, but to focus on the ethnic side, here we have reference to ’love of nation’, or in Greek, ’love of ethnos’, coming from three different angles: the Jews, the Roman centurion and Jesus, all together! And the center of the Jewish appeal and, thus also, Jesus willing response is precisely ’love of nation’, in this case the Jewish nation.
What thoughts does such a reflection on scripture stir in your mind and heart? What does scripture teach us, both in word and illustrative action, about ’loving our ethnic neighbor as ourselves’?