Saturday, February 19, 2011

Love Your Neighbor

February 20, 2011
Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

By Rev. Joe McCloskey, SJ

"You shall not bear hatred for your brother in your heart. Though you may have to reprove your fellow man, do not incur sin because of him. Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against your fellow countrymen. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD. Leviticus 19:17-18

Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy that person; for the temple of God, which you are, is holy. 1 Corinthians 3:16-17

"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.” Matthew 5:43-45

Our piety flows out of the touch of the Word of God on our souls. The love of God is perfected in us by our exposure to the word of God which claims the attention of our souls. Spiritual Intimacy is one of the greatest attractions of God in us and for others. We are called to love with our mind, heart and soul. The journey to Christ is expressed by our awareness of the Christ of each other. Christ asks us to “Be perfect, just as our heavenly Father is perfect.” Christ says he has loved us even as the heavenly father has loved him. We are called to love each other just as Christ has loved us. Christ loves us so much that he gives his life for us. We are called to love one another even as Christ has loved us. That means the giving of our lives for those who need us. We are to love our neighbor as our self. The perfect self love is the fullness of our love for our neighbor.

The advice of Christ seems to be counter-intuitive. We are the temple of God. The Spirit of God dwells in us. We study how to purify ourselves by being the best of Christ. Even as the Saint is the update of Christ in their given age, we are called to be the update of Christ in our time and place. Our Christ needs to be visible to our world in which we are in our love for one another. We study how to be a transparency of Christ to our family and friends. If we consider ourselves wise we need to become a fool so as to find wisdom. The perfection of God is found in the outrage of the cross of Christ. The tree of glory might be a contradiction to the wise people of our time, but the tree of glory is the wisdom of God with the perfection of the perfect image of the love of God’s son for us on his cross.. The perfection of God is ours by virtue of the ways we embrace the cross of Christ. The invitation of discipleship is to take up our cross and to follow Christ. The yoke of Christ is perfectly fitted to our shoulders. We study how to walk with the Lord sharing our burdens. The wisdom of this world is foolishness in the eyes of God.

We are called in the foolishness of the cross of Christ to love our enemies and to pray for those who give us a hard time. The Father makes his sun shine on the good and the bad alike. We are called to measure our love for Christ in what we do for the least ones of our lives. Christ identifies with the needs of all our brothers and sisters. How we reach out to the least ones of our lives measures how much we love Christ in our brothers and sisters. No one needs to deserve our love because we are called to love even as Christ would love. The gift of our love must be freely given if we are to aspire to be as perfect as our heaven Father. He gave the perfection of his love to us in Christ. We live the love of God when we love even as Christ has loved us. We are most Christ in our lives when we allow others to minister to our needs. Christ identifies with our needs and we become Christ to those who help us even as we help Christ when we reach out to those who need us. Even as no one can deserve the love of God, no one needs to deserve our love. Justice is what we deserve. Love is the free gifts of our hearts to those who need us. Let us be Christ for one another!