LOVE OF NEIGHBOR Our Lady will give us a deeper understanding of love of neighbor through the five Mysteries of Joy.
I. THE ANNUNCIATION ”I urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received.” Eph. 4:4 IT is well-nigh incredible; it staggers the human mind; but it is altogether true: God’s love for us is infinite. That is the meaning of the Annunciation. God so loved the world, He sent Jesus to be our brother. After an eternity of waiting, God’s love broke the bounds even of infinity; the Word was made flesh; God became one of us. This is our faith. Do I believe that God could love me that much? And if I do, what decisions do I need to make for today and the future?
Jesus lived His life for others. What does my neighbor need from me today?
II. THE VISITATION ”Although I am free in regard to all, I have made myself a slave to all so as to win over as many as possible.” 1 Cor. 9:19 AT first glance, Mary seems to have had a choice: to stay at Nazareth and “love the Lord her God,” newly conceived in her womb, or to “love her neighbor” by visiting Elizabeth. Really, there was no choice. One can choose only between two separable things. The love of God and the love of neighbor are the same; the one brings on, sustains and requires the other. All love is a seamless robe. Anyone who says, “I love God,” and does not love his neighbor is a liar. Mary went to Elizabeth because she loved her neighbor and, because she loved God so much, she went in a hurry.
The way I treat others is the way I love God. It’s as uncomplicated as that!
III. THE BIRTH OF OUR LORD ”But I say to you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Matt. 5:44 WE are all sinners, which is why we ask who must I love? Who is my neighbor? Every human being is my neighbor. No sifting, sorting, selecting; love has a single eye. Jesus made no choice; He was born for those who loved Him and for those who didn’t. He left angels and befriended publicans. He washed the feet of even those who betrayed Him. What uncalculating love, Christ’s! And that love is a commandment.
To like everyone is impossible; but with Christ, I can love all, putting myself out to be kind to everyone.
IV. THE PRESENTATION IN THE TEMPLE ”She never left the temple but worshipped night and day with fasting and prayer.” Luke 2:37 ANNA was not merely noticed; she was studied. Everyone watched her. The Doctors of the Law were secretly grateful for her; she gave them self-confidence. For those who were – just as secretly – tired of the Doctors’ tangled piety, Anna’s fervor was a refreshing commentary on the marrow of the Law. She quietly put the proud Pharisees to shame; Anna had won a public without advertising. The pagans, restricted to the outer court, knew only of the Temple’s “business,” the loud interminable buying and selling; somehow, this woman’s presence dignified even the outer court. Anna was, without a word, everybody’s sermon.
Good example shines on the just and the unjust. It is one way for me to love everyone.
V. THE FINDING OF THE CHILD JESUS IN THE TEMPLE ”All who heard him were astounded.” Luke 2:47 IT was an uncomfortable three days for the Doctors. A small Boy telling them they’d been missing the point. Very courteously, and without saying it in so many words, and charmingly, without the bite of mercenary zeal, He told the teachers they didn’t know the important things. As if they had been sitting there a lifetime looking at a fine dinner, talking about it, guessing the age of the wine, weighing each dish, reckoning the cost and debating the food value – and never eating it. And He was right. They knew He was right. Truth was in this Child who discussed religion with more than authority. He was authority!
Zeal is love outspoken. If I love others as Christ, I’ll not just “keep the faith”; I’ll spread it.