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

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?

I Want Jesus

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Recently, I was reading a book on Mother Teresa. It told a story from the end of her life that struck me.  

One time when she was in the hospital and too weak to speak, she motioned to one of the sisters to bring her a piece of paper and a pen. Then with great difficulty, she wrote out the words, “I want Jesus.” In the days she was in the hospital, she had not been able to go to Mass and deeply desired to receive the Eucharist so that Jesus could be even closer to her in this time of suffering. 

As I considered this story and today’s Gospel, I found myself thinking about the times I do not put my love of Jesus first, the times I place keeping peace in relationships, my “free time,” sleep, and so many other things before my relationship with Jesus, the one who loves me so much more than I could ever imagine. I found myself remembering the times I have resisted picking up my cross, the times I have avoided leaning into difficult relationships, or have tried to avoid suffering. Oh how I need to repent and turn back to the Lord over and over again!  

As I continued to pray, Jesus then reminded me of the times when I have continued to show up to prayer, when I’ve tried to grow in love for my neighbor, where I’ve tried to embrace suffering and turn to him in it. It has been in these times that Jesus has invited me deeper and ultimately made me more and more into the woman he has created me to be. 

This week I am asking the Lord to help make my prayer more open to his invitations so that I can begin to say “I want Jesus” every day of my life.