Wednesday 31st Week of the Year.
Anything can lose its meaning when we hear it so often. Love your neighbor is one of those sayings.
It can easily lose its impact on us.
“Love your neighbor” can be one of those sayings.
We cannot help but notice how Pope Francis
is reminding us over and over again
to love particularly that neighbor
that no one any longer notices.
Let us be the ones who notice.
God in his wonderful providence
puts such people with no names or faces
in our path every day
like he put Lazarus in the path of the rich man, Dives.
So we have to notice the person first.
It’s one thing to notice and do acts of charity for another,
feeding them, clothing them, etc.
but are such people are neighbors?
Do I love such people as I love myself?
No, this kind of love takes time
and is a determined effort on our part
to listen to that person to the point
that they are no longer a “no-name.”
But we know their name,
and we recognize their face
and their voice strikes a beat in our hearts.
Do you see what Jesus is getting at
when he says to hate our family?
It’s not the hate that’s filled with anger.
He’s telling us that once we meet our family’s responsibilities,
our work is far from done.
We have to go out into the highways and byways
and befriend those strangers we didn’t recognize
because we were not looking.
Walking with them through the ups and downs of their lives
changes them from stranger to neighbor.
Then I am beginning to love my neighbor as myself,
even a little bit.
And it’s amazing once we befriend the stranger,
it’s so much easier to love them.
Getting to love them is what’s exciting.
What is most difficult is making the first step
out of myself and into their world.
As Jesus tells us in the Gospel today, this takes calculation.
We have to calculate the responsibilities to our family,
our personal needs, our wants,
and the stranger whose face we don’t recognize.