Love Your Neighbor

Valerie Ferrara

 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”


“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”


“Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”


When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.  –Mark 12:28-34

In honor and recognition of Black History Month, Boston Trinity Academy heard from our own sixth grade English and History teacher, Mr. Geoffrey Hicks, in last week’s Chapel.

Mr. Hicks began by reading the poem “Let America be America Again” by Langston Hughes. “These poignant words sum up the polarity and disconnect that exists in America today,” he said.  He talked about the problem of the “color line” – the lie that people of different skin colors or ethnicities or nationalities or who speak different languages cannot live together as neighbors or love one another as brothers and sisters. In the twentieth century, the problem of the color line was manifested in such things as the Jim Crow laws, segregation, and racial discrimination. This, the twenty-first century, is the century of social media, counter-culture, Me Too, Black Lives Matter, Make America Great Again, and a global pandemic. “Although these are major problems,” Mr. Hicks said, “they are not the problem of the 21st century. The color line is only symptomatic. Economic reform alone cannot solve the problem. A vaccine alone cannot cure it. Anti-racist research alone cannot address it. Democracy itself cannot achieve it. There is a greater problem in the 21st century. There are problems of respect and problems of civil disorder and the breakdown in communication. There are problems of trust and hopelessness and despair. But the greatest problem,” he went on to say, “is that we have forgotten how to love.”


Even though we celebrate the lives of people such as Harriet Tubman, Fredrick Douglass, Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington for 28 days in the month of February, there is still a remnant of our past failures as a nation, a symptom of our fallen, broken, and corrupted spiritual condition. “The problem of the 21st century,” Mr. Hicks reiterated, “is that we have forgotten how to love our neighbor.”


Our culture fails to see children of God when we look at others who disagree with our personal choices or political beliefs, Mr. Hicks said. “If we are honest,” he challenged, “we often fail to view someone else as redeemable. If we cannot fully love our neighbor, then we are misguided in our expression and application of professed love for our God. Our religion is in vain. We are truly without hope if people are beyond any chance of redemption, if there can be no reconciliation, if there is no opportunity for salvation.”

“I am not without hope!” Mr. Hicks said. “Our God is too great and too mighty for us to give up now.” He closed by quoting portions of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” by James Weldon Johnson and J. Rosamond Johnson:

Lift every voice and sing, ‘til earth and heaven ring

Ring with the harmonies of Liberty
…God of our weary years, God of our silent tears
Thou who has brought us thus far on the way
Thou who has by Thy might led us into the light
Keep us forever in the path, we pray
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee

Lest, our hearts drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee
Shadowed beneath Thy hand, may we forever stand true to our God, true to our native land.