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Don Hart MRE

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Abu Ben Adam

Abu Ben Adam, may his tribe increase,
Awoke one night from a deep.
And saw within his room, making it rich like a lily in bloom,
An angel writing in a book of gold.

"What writest thou?" he said.
The angel raised his head
And said with a look made of sweet accord,
"The names of those who love the Lord."

"And is mine one?" said Abu.
"Nay, not so" replied the angel then.
Abu spoke more lowly, but cheerily still and said,
"I pray thee then, write me as one who loves his fellow men."
The angel wrote and vanished.

The next night it came again with a great weakening light
And showed the names of those whom love of God had blessed
And lo, Ben Adam's led all the rest.

Although the poet is unknown, he does provides us with some basic biblical truths. Jesus tells us to "love our neighbors as ourselves" (Mt 22:39). Jesus also said that we are to love our enemies and do good (Lk 6:35). Abu Ben Adam's request to the angel clearly reflects his desire to obey both of these commands. But to love our fellow men with agape also requires the love of God flowing in and through us.

It also demonstrates that he expected nothing in return. Isn't this how God requires us to love, that is, to love without a sense of entitlement, thinking that we are owed something in return. We are to love purely for the sake of love. That is "agape." That is true love of God and man!