POSITIVE GOLDEN RULE

Tuesday, 12th Week in Ordinary Time           

            “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

            Jesus’ teaching on treating others as one wishes to be treated is often referred to as the Golden Rule. Actually, this is not an exclusively Christian teaching. There are equivalents of the Golden Rule that exist in many other creeds and famous minds, but they are formulated in its negative form: “Do not do to others whatever you would not have them do to you.”

            It is important to see the significant difference between the negative form and the positive form of the Golden Rule. When this rule is put in its negative form – that is, when we are told that we must refrain from doing to others that which we’d not wish them do to us – it is not essentially a religious rule at all. It is simply a common-sense statement. (William Barclay) The Golden Rule in its negative form is being followed by people, not to be holy, but simply to survive. And a goodness or holiness which consists in or based on doing nothing is a contradiction of everything that Christian goodness means.

            “The very essence of Christian conduct is that it consists, not in refraining from bad things, but in actively doing good things.” (William Barclay)In other words, when the Golden Rule is put positively – when we are told that we must actively do to others what we would have them do to us – a new principle enters into life. A new attitude toward our neighbor is introduced. The Golden Rule, in its positive form, then, becomes a sacred rule.

            Jesus commands us not by saying, “Do not take revenge against your enemies,” but by telling us, “Love your enemies.” Jesus urges us not by saying, “Do not do bad things to them,” but by telling us, “Do good to those who hate you.” Jesus compels us not by saying, “Do not say bad things to them,” but by telling us, “Bless those who curse you.” Jesus directs us not by saying, “Don’t wish evil things for them,” but by telling us, “Pray for those who mistreat you.” Actions like these show a certain attitude to one’s fellow human being. It is the attitude that makes us treat our fellow human beings, not as the law allows, but as love demands.

            “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

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