19 August, Friday — All my neighbours?

Aug 19 – Memorial for St. John Eudes, priest, religious founder

John Eudes (1601-1680) established seminaries, and founded the Congregation of Jesus and Mary Eudists to promote virtuous secular parochial clergy not bound by vows, but dedicated to improving the clergy through seminaries and missions. He also founded the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity who worked for the welfare of penitent women. He was the author of the liturgical devotion of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. Patron Saint Index

Ez 37:1-14
Mt 22:34-40  

Jesus said: “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second resembles it: ‘You must love your neighbor as yourself.’

The discussions, the homilies, the books that have been, and could/will be, written on these three verses, Matt 22:37-39 are limitless, don’t you think? I’m not sure which to focus on — loving God first or the loving everyone else as we love ourselves. One reflection can’t begin to make a dent on the immense simplicity of either, much less both.

Only in loving God first can we love another human being. When we love our neighbour, we are willing to go the extra mile, to sacrifice of ourselves. That’s what Jesus did. He walked out what he preached. And he walked it out for our neighbour. For every neighbour. Every day.

If you’ve read even a few of my reflections, you’ve most likely read Dorothy Day’s favorite quote on love by a Fr. Hugo, which has become my favourite as well:

I love God as much as I love the one I love the least.

That.

Simply that.

That is what we are called to do if we choose/claim to follow Jesus. Love our neighbour.

If I want to love God first – and I do — it does begin with the commandment from the mouth of Jesus. I must walk this out — right now. Love my neighbour. No matter what. I don’t have to love what my neighbour says or does or believes; I simply have to love my neighbour. Every moment I have the gift of loving like Jesus loves. Of loving God by loving everyone He loves. Like Jesus, I am called to love those who don’t love, or even like, me; to love those who are not always kind to me; to love those who have different opinions; to love those who have different beliefs; to love those who speak and act and believe in ways that I find difficult, inappropriate, even disgusting, hateful, criminal, vile….evil. 

In making the decision to love like Jesus loves, I am deciding to look into the eyes of my neighbour and see the person God created them to be, and love them because God loves them. I recently reposted just that on Facebook, “you will never look into the eyes of someone God doesn’t love.” If we love God like Jesus does, it seems to me that it would be easy to love our neighbours, like Jesus does. But in our loud, busy, hectic, hard world, it is often easier for me to forget to love God first. So that is where I can start. We know that Jesus spent significant time every day away from the disciples to be in prayer with His Father. If Jesus needed to be intentional daily, then I know I must as well. I can spend more intentional time with God. Fall more in awe and more in love with God, and thus I will truly fall in love with my neighbour. 

Again, only in loving God first can we love our neighbour. When we love someone, we are willing to go the extra mile, to sacrifice of ourselves. That’s what Jesus did. He walked out what he preached. And he walked it out for everyone. Every day.

We are called to do the same. 

Walk this love out for our neighbour. Every neighbour.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Gina Ulicny)

PrayerLord God, until we learn to love you with our whole heart, we will not be who you created us to be. Help me, moment to moment, to desire to focus on You, Father God, so that I can love my neighbour as You desire.

ThanksgivingFather God, thank You for loving us. Thank You for giving us your very self in love.   

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