for Sunday, October 23, 2011
So what does it mean to love our neighbor as ourself? This Sunday is
surely about learning to love everyone who comes into our life. It is
about learning to love our enemy as well. It is a promise from our Lord
that the Kingdom of heaven is about loving God and our neighbor.
Today's first reading is taken from the Book of Exodus and tells us about
how we should treat strangers and foreigners. God tells us that He is
compassionate. Are we? So many times we find in our Scriptures that we
are to live like God: compassionate, loving, forgiving, helping all those
in need, etc. We can only do this well as we begin to experience this same
God at work in our lives as a God of compassion, a God of love, a God of
The Gospel picks up on the first reading. Matthew has this clear and
precise statement about what is important: Love the Lord our God and love
our neighbors as our self. That is not so difficult as long as the
neighbor is nice and trying to love us also. The challenge is always when
the neighbor is a really difficult person who is not in the least concerned
Again, we must meditate on the fact that we can only love when we know
that we are loved. The more that we know that God loves us, the more we
can love others. The love of God is poured upon us and through us to
others. There is no other way to live in the Kingdom except through love.
We could paraphrase the First Letter to the Thessalonians this way: we
have received the word in great affliction and yet with joy from the Holy
Spirit. In this way we can become a model for all believers. Especially
today when the Church is disparaged and vilified on all sides, we can
accept the word in great affliction. We recognize that some in the Church
have acted so very badly and their actions have brought affliction on all
of us who continue to believe that the Church is truly the presence of our
Lord Jesus in this world.
True love accepts suffering, especially when that suffering can lead to
purification and the deepening of love. True love understands that our
beloved can be perfect in God and yet full of sinfulness and brokenness at
the level of humanity. True love is able to see the divine shining through
all that is, especially through that which is broken.
May our love for Jesus help us to embrace the broken, the rejected, those
who are no good and all who are truly poor in spirit. This love from
Christ can transform them and us - and in that our hearts will find joy.
Readings of the day:
Reflections are available for the following Sundays: