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Love Your Neighbor

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“We will find ourselves and come alive when we make a sincere gift of ourselves to our neighbor”

This statement is part of the mission of a local work camp called Love Begins Here, run for middle and high school students. I participated in this camp for the first time a few summers ago as a leader and it changed my life. So many times in Scripture, Christ teaches about laying down your life for another and in the Gospel this weekend we see that even more in depth as Christ speaks about the two greatest Commandments. The first speaks of loving God with all your heart, soul, and mind and second, to love your neighbor as yourself. The two Commandments are really connected together by one word, “gift.” We all have been gifted life, created in the image of God, He formed us in love to give love back to Him, especially through serving others. When we understand the true gift that we have received in simply being created, we can’t help but love the creator, God. And when we see that we ourselves are loved, created in the image of God and gifted life, we would think that it would be easy to look at our neighbors and see that same gift of life. Yet we often find it so hard to love our neighbors as Christ has asked of us. During Love Begins Here, I had the complete joy to work alongside students who made a sincere gift of themselves to love their neighbors in the multiple small tasks they did to help people they had never meet before. We all came alive with such joy in serving our neighbors because God created humanity to love Him and to serve others. As hard as it is to love every person, especially those who have hurt you or who drive you crazy, ask the Lord to help you see Him in each person and you will be amazed at how easy it becomes to love. As you go forth this week I offer you three questions that were given to me to reflect on in regards to living a more other-centered life.

  1. Do I see other people in their struggles?
  2. Am I moved with compassion?
  3. Do I approach them to offer help?

Seeing, letting our hearts be moved, and approaching to help is a three step approach to how we can begin to give a sincere gift of ourselves to our neighbors and in turn love the Lord God even more.

Tags: love

Before Destruction . . .

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I was never an athlete in school. Well, unless you count marching band! It was in my freshman year of high school that we won it big down in Florida: we were the grand champions! Thoughts of the next few years began to form in our collective minds. Yet, that was the highest we would ever attain during the next few years other than an occasional 3rd place finish at state level competitions. Not exactly what you would call a great success. 

But how could this be? After all, aside from the continual stream of seniors graduating every year, we had a solid group of people and we were always coaching up the newest members of the band. Ultimately, our woes can probably be summed up in one simple word: pride. While not inherently a bad thing to have, too much pride can, and has been, the undoer of many people - thinking that they can do anything and not have to worry about shortcomings or failures. Truly, pride can make us seem as though we should always, and are destined to be, first. 

The Gospel tells us that the first shall be last. This resonates in reflection upon those moments of pride, of expectation. To think that we should be given something simply because we believe we deserve it! A book I was recently reading has the essential teachings of Mother Theresa day by day. How fitting, then, that the one I read for today states this: “Many people who have possessions, who have many goods and riches, are obsessed with them. They think that the only thing that counts is possessing wealth. That is why it is so difficult for them to walk each moment of each day with God. Too many of their moments are spent preoccupied with money and things.” 

Wealth comes in many different forms, not just money. If we allow ourselves to be too focused upon the wealth we have in terms of material goods and services, we lose sight of the wealth that we should be attempting to grow and keep and build up: a spiritual wealth that is richly abundant in the love of God. When we allow ourselves to build up wealth in a spiritual sense, the rewards are greater than any material good or service we could possibly possess! How wonderful to know that by building up our own spiritual wealth, we are creating ourselves anew and allowing God to work miracles in us! If there was something to be a little prideful about, I would argue that this it! 

What Kind of World Do You Want to Build?

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What kind of world do you want to build?

I posed this question to a woman I am currently mentoring in discipleship. It is a question I find myself pondering a lot. It guides much of the ministry work I do here and in my personal life. What kind of a world do I want for my kids? And how am I helping to build that?

The question was posed during a conversation we had regarding a T Shirt I recently made and started wearing around. The shirt says “Free Prayer – Honestly, please ask”. It was inspired by the buttons some of our parishioners wore at our summer festival, offering prayer to festival goers. One of the participants in the current Missionary Discipleship Training Group asked if the group thought there would be any takers if people wore those button out in public. To which I responded: “I don’t know. I’ll make a shirt and find out.”

The point of the shirt isn’t just a sociological experiment or a fun little challenge. It’s part of my answer to that initial question. What kind of world do I want to build?

I recently took a Target run to buy school supplies for my own kid for the first time. My little 5 year old, going off to school. Being the emotional mama that I am, I started crying. My baby girl. Going to K-4. Where has the time gone?! She’s basically got one foot out the door already! And as fellow school shoppers passed me by I got averted gazes and weirded-out looks. Not one person asked if I was okay or sympathized with what was obviously a young mother’s breakdown over her growing children.

What kind of world do I want to build? I want to build a world where we are constantly supporting each other with prayer. Where we reach out when we see someone in need, not pretend not to notice. Where people readily risk being awkward for the sake of being loving. Where seeing people pray for each other, right there in the Target aisle isn’t weird or unusual, but is in fact the norm. I want my kids to grow up feeling and believing that praying for strangers is perfectly normal and is in fact beautiful.

So I’ll keep wearing my T Shirt as one small step to build the world I want to live in, knowing I am taking many other such steps to improving this world with the love of Christ.

What kind of world do you want to build, dear reader? And how are you helping to build that?

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