Bottom line: Love God with all you being and he will enable you to love your neighbor as yourself.
Today Jesus gives the two great commandments: Love of God and love of neighbor. Let's focus on love of neighbor. "Love your neighbor as yourself".
C.S. Lewis asks the question: well, how do I love myself? He observes that he might detest something he has done, but that does not cause him to stop loving himself. C.S. Lewis concludes: "Love is not affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person's ultimate good as far as it can be obtained."
Let me tell you about a man who gave a powerful example of Christian love. He's one of my heroes. You may have heard of him: Daryl Davis. As a black musician he played various gigs. Once at a country gig he was the only black man present. A man approached him and invited him for a drink. Daryl accepted, although he only ordered cranberry juice. It was the man's first conversation with a black man. It led to other conversations where the man admitted his racial prejudices and Daryl refuted the stereotypes one by one. It turned out the man was a member of the Ku Klux Klan. Because of his friendship with Daryl he left the white supremacist organization. Well, in the last decades Daryl converted over 200 Klansmen - including Robert Kelly the Imperial Wizard of Maryland - who gave his robe and hood to Daryl.
Daryl Davis illustrates the basic principle of Jesus' love: Hate the sin, but love the sinner. In his case he hated the sin of racism, but he loved the sinner enough that the could draw racists out of their miserable life.
Now, you and I may not do something as dramatic as Daryl Davis, but we can live Jesus' precept. We don't have to look far. G.K. Chesterton said, "The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because generally they are the same people."
St. Therese shows us the way. As a young sister in a Carmelite monastery, one of the older sisters irritated her very much. She decided whenever she was tempted to run away or speak unpleasantly, she would give the sister her best smile. This continued for weeks. One day the older nun asked her, "Sister Therese, will you please tell me what attracts you so much to me? You give me such a charming smile whenever we meet."
I can see you are smiling even under your mask. Maybe you have someone in your life like that unpleasant sister. And maybe you are asking: how was Therese able to love that person? She gives the answer:
"Ah! It was Jesus hidden in the depth of her soul who attracted me, Jesus who makes the bitterest things sweet!"
The truth is, in order to love ones neighbor, we need God. Even two people deeply in love, at some point, find that they need a Higher Power in order to persevere. If you are living with a narcissist, it may require some counseling, but ultimately you need God.
That's why Jesus said the greatest and the first commandment is: "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind." And "The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
Follow those commandments and, like Daryl Davis, you will help heal our society. Follow those two commandments and like Therese of Lisieux, you will become a saint.* Love God with all you being and he will enable you to love your neighbor as yourself. Amen.
*More about that next Sunday when we celebrate All Saints.
From Archives (Thirtieth Ordinary Sunday, Year A):
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Audio Files of Homilies (Simple Catholicism Blog)
Are these homilies a help to you? Please consider making a donation to St. Mary of the Valley Parish.
Other Priests' Homilies, Well Worth Listening:
Fr. Kurt Nagel
Fr. Frank Schuster
Fr. Brad Hagelin
Fr. Jim Northrop
Fr. Michael White
Fr Pat Freitag (and deacons of St. Monica)
Bishop Robert Barron
Bulletin (St. Mary of Valley Parish)
Parish Picture Album
MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru