When I was about 6 or 7 my older sister and my brother in law gave me a 12-inch ruler for my birthday. It was heavy and made out of gold colored metal. I remember unwrapping it and looking at it and from the look on my face I guess they knew I wondered “what am I going to do with this”. So, my brother in law said “You know what that is? It’s the Golden Rule. Since I still looked puzzled, he said “Turn it over and read what it says” So I turned the inch marked side over and read out loud “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. He said “That’s right – that’s the Golden Rule.”
The ruler was made of brass and a bit heavy but I put it in my desk and used it to measure and when I needed to draw straight lines. With that brass ruler I could take measurements to compare and copy and I could “rule” and mark my drawings or papers with straight lines: Nice, neat and perfect like an expert! I think some part of us all wants the world to be a place where everything is perfect, exact, clearly defined and in order. And we use all sorts of “rules” to try to do that. But like my brass ruler, it only stretched so far – and then what? What do we do when we come to the end of the measure and the problem is bigger than the tools at hand? I’ve lost the brass ruler along the way but I’ve never lost the message of the Golden Rule.
Today in Matthew’s gospel Jesus ties the Law to the Rule – the first commandment: to love God with all your heart, mind and soul – And second: love your neighbor as yourself. God’s all merciful and forgiving Love completes and perfects God’s Law. And when all our rules, laws, answers – run out, run dry, go wrong – who knows what we can do if we all followed the perfect Guide: The Golden Rule