We all like to think we love our neighbors, but we all struggle with someone, whether online or in person.
We all also like to think of ourselves as the heroes or the sacrificial in every relationship, but we are in the grand story, always both the ones who crucify/betray/deny/run away from our Lord, and the ones being saved by His crucifixion. It is the nature of our existence. We are sinners. We need salvation via Christ’s passion and death, and we are called to imitate it. There is not one moment in our lives when this is not the reality to which each of us who are professed followers of Christ are called.
If we look at parenting as an eternal reality, we begin to understand that this is the mission, to whittle down our own sins to as close to nothingness as possible, and allow God’s grace to flood our lives in perpetuity –we become the spring flowing from the rock to others. We become the vessel of God’s mercy and goodness, and all that God offers, to the injured Body of Christ. Our whole existence is for love by love for the beloved –hence we should do nothing that harms, and all because of love for the sake of the ones Christ love. (Since God loves all, that means we too, must love all. Since Christ gave all, that means we too, must pour everything out). It’s simple and yet seems impossible, but it is what we were born, imagined into being, for doing.
All means all.
It means somehow loving those we consider unloveable. (by prayer if by no other means).
Serving those who are difficult. (by prayer if by no other means).
Loving those who are different.
All love is a forever cross. It remains a burden we must willingly shoulder that will involve dying to the self all along the way.
We must as Catholics, begin to pool our mustard seeds of faith for the world, in reparation for all the damage done in Christ’s name by our actions and inactions, silence and speaking, all that we’ve done over the course of our lifetime, that in some way loved things other than God before God, and ourselves over our neighbors. It is why we are called to a life of faith revealed through our work, and prayer without ceasing. It’s rather like parenting. The love is constant, the task at hand, ever changing but also constant.
The saints rendered their hearts on an ongoing basis, recognizing that sin unrepentant, unexamined, excused and unconfessed to ourselves and God, could keep us from Christ –not by His anger, but by our pride, our refusal to recognize we needed God’s mercy. God’s mercy is an infinite ocean inviting us deeper and deeper in, but it must be plunged into and sought.
How should you love your neighbor as yourself today?
Here are 40 ways to follow the two greatest commandments today:
40) Refrain from the last word online.
39) Go to mass.
38) Pray for the deceased.
37) Get the shot.
36) Donate to victims of the earthquake in Haiti. Talked to a friend with family there, and most are still sleeping outside or in cars for fear of buildings collapsing.
35) Look at your church bulletin…see where there is a need.
34) Hug your children.
33) Give your spouse a foot rub.
32) Write a letter to someone affirming them.
31) Call a friend and schedule some time together.
30) Visit the sick.
29) Donate from your pantry to a pantry.
28) Spend time in adoration.
27) Schedule physicals or dental appointments for yourself and family. –caring for the gift of the body God has given you is an honoring of God’s gifts, and a form of loving yourself as well.
26) Date night with spouse or children
25) Pray the rosary with petitions.
24) Join a ministry that visits the imprisoned.
23) Teach religious education for your parish.
22) take a class of religious education.
21) Purge your wardrobe and donate to a charity that clothes the naked.
20) Make something (food) for someone else and surprise them.
19) Go for a walk with someone and share your faith.
18) Go to confession.
17) fast today from something.
16) do a chore for someone else.
15) Sing at mass.
14) Listen to and pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet.
13) Keep a journal by your bed, and each night give thanks for whatever graces and gifts you saw.
12) Start the day with a prayer of abandonment.
11) Do the worst chore –the one no one wants to do. Tell no one.
10) Pray for your parish priests.
9) Visit a shrine and discover a saint.
8) Play with your family today –spend time letting each take the lead.
7) Teach a child something today –it can be anything, but something new.
6) let yourself struggle with something.
5) examine your finances –and give a little more.
4) set an alarm on your phone for a few times a day, (to pray) for the Pope’s intentions.
3) mask up and offer up the irritation you feel, either in wearing or in encountering those that do not.
2) allow yourself the opportunity to be empty –to fast intellectually from stimuli, as you would physically from food, to recognize that we are insufficient to be full, only distracted, and that we often suffer from busyness when we should choose the better part.
1) Paint, play music, create poetry, garden, do something to add to the beauty of the world.