Almost everyone, Christian or not, is familiar with the words of the Lord as delivered to Moses, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Lv 19:18). This is a message echoed by Jesus when to name the greatest commandment:
“You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself”. (Mt 22:37-39)
In the above passage, Jesus clearly associates loving one’s neighbor to loving God. While most of us don’t have any difficulty loving God, loving our neighbor often presents a challenge. As humans, we can all be difficult to love at times. I don’t know of anyone who has never been grouchy, annoying or even nasty at one time or another. However, Our Lord doesn’t qualify the command to love your neighbor with, “…unless it’s too difficult”.
We often think of love as a feeling, but it is really an act of the will. A parent getting up in the middle of the night to comfort a sick child isn’t doing it because it “feels good”. They’re doing it out of love. A child visiting an elderly parent with Alzheimer’s disease isn’t doing it “for fun”, but rather because of love. Being nice to someone who is nasty isn’t easy, but it should be done …why? That’s right…because of love.
Today, why not look for opportunities to love our neighbor (child, parent, spouse, coworker, etc.), especially when it’s not easy. Then we can be sure that we’re also loving God. As Jesus tells us:
“Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Mt 25:40)