Love Your Neighbor
By: Millie Prebel
We are all so busy… or is it just me? As disciples of Christ we should have a slower pace, a mindfulness to see others, a purposefulness to notice their needs. While we hear the same gospel many times the beauty of God’s word is that each time we hear it there is something new to take from it. A nugget we didn’t hear the first or second or fiftieth time we’ve heard it.
Recently, I heard a reading from the beginning of the book of Revelation. John heard the Lord say write the church in Ephesus this and I paraphrase, you’ve been doing good work, and been very busy, perhaps too busy. You’ve suffered and endured and not grown weary. But you have lost the love you had at first and do not realize how far you have fallen. And by love, he also means charity. Repent and do the works you did at first. The charitable, remembering the poor. Then in the gospel of Luke we read the story of Bartimaeus, the blind beggar, a story we are all familiar with.
We are invited to stretch our hearing, to meditate and find something new to consider in this familiar passage. Yes we get busy, Jesus was busy, and even the apostles with him chastised the blind beggar to pipe down and quit his hollering for Jesus. They were after all on their way to something else that day, something more important perhaps. However, Bartimaeus only cried out all the louder. The point we must consider is this, Jesus takes the time to stop and take care of this blind man. Jesus gives us the example; to stop, to be merciful, to be charitable, not to miss the moment or overlook the obvious.
Who have we forgotten in this time of busyness? We can never be too busy to stop and perform the works of mercy. God noticed the people of Ephesus had stopped taking care of the poorest looking to more important things, like getting rid of wickedness and false profits. They overlooked the little things. We must remember we have to also not get caught up in missing the important things and little moments.
It’s easy to get busy, but we can forget sometimes those that we’ve left behind. The small things, the seemingly unimportant details, the poor. We can be doing all these great things yes, but we cannot forget to be merciful, remembering the small things, the forgotten. That is the challenge to us. Who can we reach out to this week in mercy and charity? Can we call a loved one in a nursing home? Call that widow we know to see how she is doing? Who are we called to reach out to?
The gospel of Matthew tells us “You shall 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 is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”
Love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind. What does it look like to fulfill that commandment? I think it begins by never being content, by never ceasing to strive to conquer that last bit of sin in our hearts, in our lives. I think it is sustained by our prayer, both the personal prayer that we bring to our Lord as we offer all the emotions of our heart and our life, as well as the communal prayer that we take part in as the Church. But most of all, I think it is lived by the second commandment, by the love and care of both stranger and dear friend such that we no longer live for ourselves.
Love your neighbor as yourself. What does it mean to do that? In each of our lives we must train ourselves to seek those people out, those in need, and to offer our time, our energy, and our resources for their sake. Step back and think of your circle of family and friends is there a person that is having a hard time for example, the elderly parent, the struggling young person, the lonely aunt, or uncle? If someone just snapped into your mind then guess what? That is your person in need. That person is how you can live out the great commandments right now.
We should always be recalibrating our faith journey and these are wonderful things to ponder and reflect on. Don’t let the busyness of life edge out time for God and serving others. Serving others is life. Reach out this week to those in need, offer the message of faith and hope in real life. Bringing Christ to others is the best way to live out the gospel, to be the hands and feet of Jesus in the world.