The Adventurous Lectionary – A Rabbi’s Wisdom

The Adventurous Lectionary – A Rabbi’s Wisdom April 2, 2020

If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
If I am not for others, what am I?
And if not now, when? (Rabbi Hillel)

These words from Rabbi Hillel (110 BCE-10 CE) speak to the interplay of self-care and care for others. This older contemporary of Jesus, reminded us that our ability to help others depends on our personal self-affirmation. As the flight attendants say, “put on your oxygen mask first before helping others.”

If we are unable to sustain our own wellbeing, we can’t help others. In this time of pandemic, take care of yourself. Though your options may be limited, do something daily to sustain your spirit.
Rabbi Hillel reminds us that if we only care for ourselves, our spirits contract. We may be content, or achieve much, but you have lost your spiritual center. Your life will eventually suffer morally and spiritually. A good life involves caring for others in whatever way is appropriate for us given our current circumstances. Reach out, even in your sheltering in place.

Finally, Rabbi Hillel challenges us not to postpone any good deed. This is the moment of salvation, as the Apostle Paul says. This is the day to do something beautiful and caring. Be wise, but also reach out with care and love. Be on the side of the angels.

This time of pandemic has brought out the best and worst in people. While some hoard, others risk their lives. While some insult, others serve. Despite our situation, we are never excused from doing the right thing in our unique situation. We are called to awaken to our better angels and then let them out into the world.

A healthy and joyful life is expansive, affirmative, and caring, balancing self-affirmation with world loyalty, and is committed to saving the world one act at a time.
Loving God, remind me that now is the moment of salvation. Now is the moment for love. Let my spirit expand to embrace with love everyone I meet. Amen.
Bruce Epperly is a Cape Cod pastor, professor, and author of over 50 books including FAITH IN A TIME OF PANDEMIC, GOD ON LINE: A MYSTICS GUIDE TO THE INTERNET, and BECOME FIRE: GUIDEPOSTS FOR INTERSPIRITUAL PILGRIMS.

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