Succeeding in Love of Neighbor

September 17, 2012

This past Sunday’s Gospel shows the Pharisees at it again.  Jesus cures a man of dropsy on the Sabbath to teach us love of neighbor while the Pharisees jaw at him over breaking their rules.  You can almost see them adding another transgression to their list and checking it off as they keep book on the Divine Mercy.  Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene, O.C.D. notes in the meditation for the day from Divine Intimacy:

In vain would we believe that we were rooted in the love of God if we failed in our love of neighbor.  How could one think that an act of fraternal charity might be in opposition to the law for sanctifying the Sabbath?

Such are the aberrations of one who pretends to love God while paying attention solely to his own interests, without any thought for the needs of others.  This is not Christianity, but Pharisaism and the destruction of charity.

These lines call to mind our treatment of friends and spouses.  We fight a battle against narcissism in ourselves from the time we are a child until we die.  Narcissism and charity cannot coexist.  Jesus showed us that thinking of the needs of others and acting on these thoughts is real charity and the antidote to selfishness.  

Wives and husbands who think at the beginning of the day, “What can I do for my spouse today?  What would delight him?  What would ease the burden of daily duties and give her a break?” are living in charity.  The friend who sees another friend in some kind of need and who reaches out to help is a true and loving friend. 

It’s all about choice in how we spend our time.  Overcoming narcissism means spending time thinking and doing for others, especially those close to us in daily life.

We can extend this thinking to the workplace, too.  What can we do to help co-workers or customers have a better day?  Sometimes a smile and cheerful greeting changes thunderclouds into rainbows for another person.  Or offering to do the job nobody else really wants to do but has to be done.  Or offering to take on a duty for the day because a co-worker is having a hard time.

Living like this makes every day bearable for someone else and even for ourselves.  If love of neighbor doesn’t flow naturally from our love of God, then what are we really doing at Mass on Sundays?

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V. Praised be Jesus Christ!

R. Now and forever!

(Click on the link above to read why I end my posts this way.)

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