Sunday’s Gospel reading from Matthew 22: 34-40, The Greatest Commandment, tells us to Love one Another, but that’s not always easy to do. Some are easy to Love. I Love my Children, My Grandfather, Mother, Aunt, my Friends, my brothers, cousins, aunts, uncles, coworkers, several people who have passed on before me…
I could go on and on with a very long list of people I Love, people I believe I will always Love, no matter what, and almost every day I mentally add names of those I meet or those I haven’t consciously thought of in a long time.
The list of people I don’t like, on the other hand, is very short: A boss I had over a decade ago, the parent of a student (yes, teachers do have parents they don’t particularly like), my x and his girlfriend, Hillary Clinton, maybe a handful of others. I honestly can’t think of too many people I sincerely don’t like.
But those who I dislike are not the hardest to Love.
I can act in a Loving way even toward those I dislike. They have names. They have faces. I can act Lovingly toward them by not acting unlovingly and by praying for their Wisdom and their Salvation.
Those I dislike, for better or for worse, are real to me.
And real is Loveable.
So Who is the Hardest to Love?
It might take me a while, but I could write a list of those I Love easily and another of those I struggle to Love, but there’s another list I’d have difficulty writing.
How can I make a list of those I am indifferent too? I don’t even know most of them by name. Most of those people I put myself in front of, people I think I am better than – although I would find a nicer way to say that when I justify my actions to others and even more so to myself.
Think of all the people we are indifferent to through the course of our day.
the driver we cut off on the way to work,
the colleague we put down,
the Boy Scouts selling popcorn door to door,
the bum on the street corner holding that sign “Will work for food,”
the child abused, neglected, abandoned who lives just down the road but who we never really see.
What about those masses of suffering people to whom we are indifferent to on a global scale:
victims of sex slavery (the average age of victims is about 11),
Christian persecution in places like Iraq, China, and North Korea just to name a few,
kidnapped children forced to foreign lands to work chocolate beans so we can have Mars and Nestle and Hershey and…
What is our excuse? We can’t change anything? One person can never make a difference? You couldn’t live without chocolate? The guy’s just a bum on the corner? We live too far away?
How lame will those excuses sound when we stand before our Lord? How will we one day in Heaven look into the eyes of those same children, children who suffer so greatly on Earth in part due to our indifference? How will we look into their big, round eyes as they are being gently cradled, held lovingly in their Father’s embrace while He asks us how we let these things happen?
Jesus calls on us to Love our neighbor. In the Good Samaritan, we learn our neighbor is not those near us or those who look like us or talk like us or think like us, but all God’s children.
It is easy to Love those we hold near and dear to our heart. It is more challenging to Love those we don’t like, but it is possible.
Is it impossible for us to hold our hearts open to Love for those those far away and silently pleading. Are there just too many of them? Is there a limit to our ability to Love? Do we need to save our Love for those near us? How can we Love all without spreading ourselves too thin?
It is easy to turn our backs, to pretend these issues don’t exist, to get caught up in our own problems and struggles and downfalls, but it is not Loving to do so.
Jesus calls on us all to be Loving to All. The opposite of Love is not Hate. The opposite of Love is Indifference, emptiness, nonexistence. God Loved You into existence. Can you do the same for those you will never meet, for those who don’t matter to you? How will you treat those you are indifferent to. God will not be indifferent to your treatment. He will be judge and jury, and He will be Just as we are often not.
Please, take a moment today to pray for those the world overlooks, those in shadows, those we cannot see. While praying, make a commitment to Love them in a physical way, a way requiring action on your part, not merely the donation of funds although please do that too if you are able, but a donation of time and of pride. How will you put yourself on the line for a silently suffering child of God? What are you willing to sacrifice, risk, or do for those whom you are indifferent to?
Bible Readings from Sunday, October 25, 2014