07/12/2016

A Call to Love: United We Stand

Who is your neighbor? Be the change, be the light

Good morning friends!

Today’s post is delicate and may ruffle some feathers. But as soon as pen hit the paper, it all came flowing out of me…So thank you in advance for reading.

Social media isn’t all bad, but over the last week, I had to just stop checking it. Everyone seems to have an opinion on what is “right” and what is “wrong”, and it seems everyone wants a piece of the “pointing the finger” pie. There has been a lot of public ranting about “what’s wrong” with our country, our leaders, and our police force. It is tempting to add to the noise, to add fuel to that fire. But is there a better way to respond to the wave of recent tragedies?

After spending the 4th of July alone in A2, I felt a call to go home, visit with family, and recharge my batteries. One thing I always look forward to is going to mass at the church where I grew up. This week’s message was extremely powerful and challenging. I felt compelled to share the message from this week’s readings in light of these recent events.

Father Mark pointed out that it is no coincidence that after the tragedies occurring in our nation over the last week, the Gospel this week focuses on the parable of the Good Samaritan and loving others as ourselves.

Owe no one anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet”; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.

~ Romans 13:8-10 NRSV

There is only one question we should be asking ourselves after such a devastating waterfall of events over the last week: Who is my neighbor? Who am I called to love as myself?

The answer: “anyone who needs mercy, compassion, or understanding.” [1]  World leaders, an ethnic or religious group that may be different than you, the people we come into contact with every day, and the people we disagree with. All of these are our neighbors, especially those we find most difficult to understand and perhaps the most difficult to love.

Reading the news and social media blasts, we get a false sense that the hate is “out there”, the problems are created “out there”, the violence is “out there”… as if it is somewhere other than here. It isn’t here in the safety of my house or office, secluded from the world, and certainly not here in my own heart.

But it would be wrong to assume that.

However, even amidst all the complaining, the unrest, and the seemingly endless Facebook status rants… there is one thing that I have seen be a common and inspiring theme: Be better humans. All of us, together.

The simplicity and beauty of that those three little words have inspired me beyond words: be better humans. I think this something we can all agree on. It may not seem like it sometimes (or most of the time), but every decision that I make, every action I take, every word I speak has a ripple effect: it carries to the four corners of the earth (The earth is a SPHERE, Arie… yes I know! Bear with me here). We will never be able to fully grasp how far our “ripples” disperse into this world, but we can make the intentional decision to strive every day to make one small change to move towards being a better human, to make the world a better place, to stop ranting on social media about the change that needs to happen and focus on being the change that needs to happen. But I’m a good person! I don’t kill people, I don’t steal, I don’t… blah blah blah. You’re right, you may not be the absolute worst person on this earth, but can we really say we are perfect? I know I can’t.  The world needs you and me to take a small step in the direction of Perfection, knowing we will never reach it but consistently striving for it anyway. We should strive to be better than what we consider our  personal “baseline” of good vs. bad. The world needs that. It deserves that from us.

It breaks my heart to see neighbor against neighbor, friend against friend, family against family. This is not what we were made for. We were made for community and unity, built on a foundation of Love, Joy, and Peace. I believe that together we can move our world towards that ideal, no matter how small our part in it is.

I love today’s featured image: a heart-shaped knot made of rope… to me, it represents unity through love of one another. The kind of unity that we each need to grow in order to transform the world.

So who is your neighbor? Who is that person in your life that you find hard to love, maybe someone you are prejudice against, someone that is so different than you that you just can’t seem to understand? That person (or group) needs your love, your understanding, your compassion. Until we start taking action to be the change, we will never see the change.

So perhaps we should stop looking to point the finger and start looking inward, asking what we can do internally to begin to positively affect our external environment.

I am up for the challenge. Are you?

Forgive everything that has ever happened
life is everything we can imagine
laid out in patterns of pain and passion
you cannot control it
so keep your compassion
There are no accidents
there are no factions
there is no us or them
nothing to borrow or lend
no enemy or friend
and only forgiveness can make that happen
The only battle worth the fight
from the Rwandan genocide
to the Seven Sisters forgiving Orion for chasing them across the skies every night
forgiveness
is for giving
so give yourself this gift from time to time
and let all of your mistakes
become all of your greatest gifts
in disguise.

~ Luka Lesson

Image credit: Pixabay

[1] Inspired by a homily given by Father Mark Peacock. Read his full homily here!

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