Loving Thy Neighbor Often Hurts

On 02/09/2013, in Catholic, Opinion, by Tom Voiland

What is the Meaning of Life?

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”  And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and foremost commandment.  The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” On these two commandments depend the whole law……..  How many times have we all struggled to understand the immense amount of messaging, commandments, rules, etc., contained in Scripture?  Not only is there a huge volume, but it seems that the messages can be contradictory and/or really hard to comprehend.  That’s why I love this passage from Matthew (22:36-40).  It takes all the complexity found in the Bible – the entire content – and boils it down to two foundational elements. Love God and all people.  These are the sole reasons we are here.

Loving Isn’t Always Easy

Love hurts, love scars, love wounds and mars, any heart not tough or strong enough to take a lot of pain……..  A line in a pretty famous song from the 1970’s, and ain’t it the truth.  All of us have scars and wounds from those we love hurting us or even from unrequited love.  But love we must, no matter what.  And loving as Christ commands means serving, serving others.  Being completely selfless, not self serving. So only seek to serve. This is what we’re called to do – serve. Don’t be afraid to be subordinate to those you come in contact with, serve them. Wow, this is hard because when you do nothing but serve, you’re going to get your feelings hurt by other’s who aren’t mindful of your love and unselfishness. This is the only way out of the incredibly self serving culture we live in.  “For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.”

The Ultimate Example

We are all naturally attracted to leaders, and what makes a person an effective leader?  They lead by example, not with their mouths.  Christ faced his own children everyday, represented in the form of the ultra-hypocritical Jewish leadership, only to see them give lip-service.  Walking around espousing their piety, but not serving the Jewish people one iota.  They did not love, so they could not serve. Want to talk about the ultimate example of selflessness and love?  GOD, in the form of Christ, was born in a cave in the least of cities in Judah, laid in a trough out of which animals ate.

In his public life, he never asked for anything from anyone but food and shelter.  He spent three years teaching about the Kingdom, healing people of all sorts of afflictions, being rejected by his own and with a bounty on his head from the Pharisees.  All the time just serving, serving his children, and loving them And in the ultimate example of love, he allows those he loves like no other – his children – to betray him, spit on him, pluck his beard, beat him, laugh at him, then murder him.  All for us, all so that we can be with him in Heaven.

But wait a second, should it not be us to go through the hammers of hell just for the chance to be in Paradise with Christ?  Doesn’t the rationale for his passion and death seem completely backwards?  HE died for US???????? Yes, he died for us, in the ultimate example of love.  “For no greater love exists then when one lay down his life for his friends”.  Now, what’s the punchline?  After all this, after everything he did for us in his public ministry and after the utter pain and humiliation of being crucified, what are some of Christ’s last words?  “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”  Unreal.


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