This past weekend, the first Mass reading was from Leviticus 19 which talks about loving your neighbor as yourself. The Gospel reading was from Matthew 5 and was about not only loving your neighbor but also your enemy.
I believe that we are asked to love our neighbor because sometimes our neighbor is the hardest to love. They can often annoy and frustrate us the most! Especially those neighbors who are rude, obnoxious and do not understand boundaries. Often, if we can learn to love our neighbors, we can love anyone. Also, if we are not able to love our neighbor whom we can see, how can we love God whom we can not see (1John 4:20)?
It's interesting how people often do not make the connection and Christians pick and choose what bible verses they want to follow!
Currently, the person who bought out house in Florida and our previous neighbor are feuding. Ironically, they are both professing Christians. They are feuding over trees.
You see, our previous neighbor has huge trees that almost completely hang over the pool of our previous house. When we lived there, I did find the trees annoying and it was frustrating trying to keep the pool clean but I also understood that our neighbors didn't have the extra money to trim them and we didn't have the extra money to trim them so I tried to look at the positive side of things (at least I had a pool to clean leaves out of, it was much needed exercise that I wouldn't otherwise be disciplined enough to get, etc.). Also, as I cleaned the leaves out of the pool, dumping them in the trash can I kept nearby, I would offer the frustration of it as a prayer for others. Being able to offer that up as a prayer kept the peace in the neighborhood.
Well, it turns out that the new owners do not share the same sentiment. They have been scooping the leaves out of the pool and throwing them over the fence of the neighbors. Needless to say, that isn't going over so well with the neighbors and I am hearing about it as well as the rest of the neighborhood. Suddenly this peaceful neighborhood I once lived in, isn't so peaceful anymore.
Like I said before, both families are professing Christians. Now this is not a blog post about immigration but I find it ironic that my old neighbor is also very angry over the "immigration ban".
How can we love immigrants and foreigners if we can not even love our neighbor?!
No matter where we move to, there is always going to be THAT neighbor. We currently have THAT neighbor at our new home. She is a very grumpy, middle-aged woman whom doesn't seem to like life much. I keep being kind to her. Maybe eventually she will open up to me and I will find out why she is so miserable. If she doesn't though, I will keep loving her.
Even though loving our neighbor doesn't necessarily mean just the person next door, If we would all start there first, the world would probably be a lot more peaceful of a place.
I remember a story Mother Theresa once told of a Muslim woman whose family didn't have anything to eat and was starving. Mother Theresa gave her food for her family. The Muslim woman ended up giving half of the food to her neighbor. This Muslim woman proved to be a better Christian than most Christians!
If you are a Christian, Christianity isn't just a nice philosophy or idealistic notion! If we are true followers of Jesus, we are called not only to be kind but to lay our life down for others, pick up our cross and love even our enemies!