"We become what we love and who we love shapes what we become. If we love things, we become a thing. If we love nothing, we become nothing. Imitation is not a literal mimicking of Christ, rather it means becoming the image of the beloved, an image disclosed through transformation. This means we are to become vessels of God´s compassionate love for others. --St. Clare of Assisi
Gospel Text: (MT 22:34-40)
When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees,
they gathered together, and one of them,
a scholar of the law tested him by asking,
"Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?"
He said to him,
"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.
The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments."
"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."
It sounds easier than it is. For some reason, human beings seem to work very hard to exclude rather than include. We fight wars. We discriminate based on skin color. We close our borders to those fleeing poverty and violence.
So the question really becomes, "Who is my neighbor," as the scholar goes on to ask in the version of this story in the Gospel of Luke. Throughout the Bible, God is the defender of the poor, the outcast, the shunned widow, and the sinner. It really is not a question of who our neighbor is or who we have to be nice to. Rather the question is how we can be a good neighbor to others in need. When we welcome the migrant family, ensure parents can feed their children, and provide safe housing for the homeless; when we say a kind word to the cashier at the grocery store, prepare a meal for a family grieving the death of a loved one, and stop to let another driver turn into busy traffic...these are the real embodiment of the Word of God within us.
We intuitively know when things are out of whack in our world, when we are not in right relationship with God and God's plan for us. And I think we also intuitively know what we need to do to bring us back into right relationship with God. We need only ask ourselves, "How is God calling me to be the good neighbor today?"