Saturday, 22 February 2014

Love thy neighbour



“Jesus answered, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and most important commandment. The second most important commandment is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ ”

Father Ignatius stopped reading from the Gospel of St Matthew Chapter 22 and looked up at the congregation sitting there.

“And that’s where the problem lies,” he said, “love your neighbor as you love yourself.

“It’s almost too difficult for some people; and do you know why?

“It’s because too many people just do not love themselves.

“Yes … that’s right … they don’t really love themselves.

“They find faults with themselves and see no reason to like or love who they are. Many have a problem with their self-image or about their character in some way.

“They think they don’t look pretty enough for today’s society.

“And it is not just our physical appearance that some of us find cause to dislike; the shape of our nose, or our ears or whatever else we think is wrong.

“Some people don’t love themselves because they feel inadequate in some way or other. They feel they’re too shy perhaps, or not bright or clever enough like their friends, or not successful as others at work or in business.

“Many people sadly conjure up any reason they can think of which erodes their self-confidence, their self-esteem, and leads them not to like or love themselves.

“When Jesus said ‘as you love yourself’; He did not mean we should all have a Narcissus complex and be totally self-centered and self-obsessed.

“He was teaching us to appreciate who we really are. Not the outer part of ourselves, the visible body which we may find fault with, but our inner self. Our very soul!”

Father Ignatius paused for a while.

“We are the Creation of God. Each one of us different and unique. Each one of us beautiful in our own way and worthy of love,” he continued with a smile, “God does not make mistakes. There are no rejects off His production line …

“Every one of His Creations is different, unique, and perfect in every way. And certainly worthy of love.

“And with your help, I will prove it to you.”

He looked up at the congregation in anticipation. They were intrigued and he definitely had their full attention.

“I want you to promise me you’ll do as I ask … will you do that?”

They nodded and some said yes and agreed.

“When you get home after Mass I want each one of you to take a piece of paper and write down two or three things about yourself which you like.

“It could be anything. Your ability to play the piano perhaps, or the fact that you’re a hard worker, or maybe you’re a good cook, or you are good at drawing, painting or writing.

“Or it could be that you sing so well that the neighbors have broken all your windows to hear you better!”

They laughed.

“And when you’ve written down your list of two or three items, I want you to consider them as gifts from the Good Lord especially for you.

“Whatever is good about or within you is from His making, and not from your own efforts. He gave you the ability to sing, dance, and play music or whatever else you are or can do. These are gifts He gave you when He made you as a baby all those years ago.

“And as you learn to thank God for these gifts, as you begin to appreciate these gifts from Our Lord, especially and uniquely for you; then slowly and in time you’ll learn to appreciate yourselves.

“You’ll start to like yourselves as you really are; a gift from God.

“Whoever you are today is a gift from God. Whatever you do with your lives is your gift back to God.

“And as you learn to love yourselves a little better, then will you be able to appreciate and love your neighbors as Jesus commanded.”

18 comments:

  1. "to appreciate who we really are" ... and
    "whoever you are today is a gift from God; whatever you do with your lives is your gift back to God" ...
    Lovely. Lord, that I may see--and love!

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    1. It's great to see you visiting here Eileen. Thanx for your visit and for taking the time to comment. We hope to see your return visit here soon and often.

      God bless you.

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  2. Ah Victor, this is really a very meaningful post.
    One thing though, it is easier to do this than have some neighbours love you...When residing in a foreign land, you are often judged by your accent, your way of dressing, customs etc... and when prickly situations arise it remains for you to learn to keep a low profile...Father Ignatius' good sermon would have been lost on the neighbours I am thinking of!
    God bless,

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    1. I understand what you mean Noelle. Sometimes, no matter how much we try, no matter how much we love ourselves, and how much we try to love our neighbours; there comes a point when they (the neighbours - other people) don't love you back. This is obviously hard but it should not stop us from trying.

      Many people did not love Christ back, no matter how much He loved them.

      Praying for you. God bless you and yours.

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  3. Bravo on many fronts, Victor. It is important to not only learn to love ourselves, but to remember it is because of the gifts the Lord has given us. (Of course, there are many who love themselves a bit too much, but that is for another post ...)

    God Bless.

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    1. You're so right Michael. Some people love themselves too much for all the wrong reasons; and they forget that their talents (good looks, abilities etc ...) are gifts from God.

      Thank you so much for writing in.

      God bless you Michael.

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  4. Great article. I struggled with loving myself for years and years. When I finally understood this verse, and how necessary it was to love myself so I can love others, I began to change. By God's grace.
    God bless!

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    1. Thank you Colleen for sharing your experiences. It is often difficult to like oneself; we don't see it as being natural. It can be done by God's grace; as you say.

      God bless you.


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  5. I don't have trouble loving myself. Perhaps I'm too ego centric. My trouble is loving others as I love myself, and that's a tall order. To clarify, I do love everyone, and I certainly don't harbor hate, but love them as myself, boy that's tough. God bless.

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    1. That's a very good point Manny. Thank you. Yes, some people, (including me), find it difficult to love others; especially when they have done us wrong. "Love your enemy" is a hard lesson indeed.

      God bless you.

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  6. Brilliant story, Victor. This one may be one of my favorite Fr. Ignatius stories - I guess because I have struggled so much over the years to love myself so I could very much relate to your words here. Thank you :)

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    1. I understand what you mean Mary. We so often see ourselves in a negative way and wish we were somehow better. I know I've done this often.

      I appreciate your continued support. God bless.

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  7. Hi Victor! I really do love this one. And I agree with Fr. Ignatius too. It's just too easy to point out flaws. Or we hear we shouldn't think too much of ourselves, that's not humble.

    But to see our gifts as just that, and belonging to God makes it all fall into perspective. Celebrating who we are is really celebrating God. I like that!
    Happy Monday my friend!
    Ceil

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    1. Thank you Ceil for your visit and for taking the time to comment. We all so often don't focus on our talents as gifts from God. We look at our flaws instead.

      Hope you have a great week. God bless.

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  8. What can I say...this is a LOVEly post.
    I like the activity of listing two or three things about yourself which you like...this is a good activity to do everyday; think of one thing everyday and I'll bet by the end of the year you will be loving yourself as you should your neighbor. I am going to try that for Lent...THANK YOU (and Fr. Ignatius) for the idea and inspiration!

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    1. What a nice thing to say Hand-Maid. Thank you. Yes, it is a good idea to list things about us which we like; which of course are gifts from God.

      May He bless you and yours always.

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  9. In my old age, I'm learning every day. As a matter of fact even though my parents directed me into a Catholic church and I was an altar boy before the second Vatican came around and if truth be known, I never really believed that GOD (Good Old Dad) was for real.

    As time went on, I started to search for GOD and long story short, there were times when "I" was like a kind of spiritual "Fire Ant" in learning about "Jesus The Christ". Longer story shorter, "I" do love myself and believe "IT" or not, some angels might say that, "IT" would be cruel for some if "I" truly love others as I've loved myself in the past.

    Let's sum "IT" all UP by saying that like Manny, "I", "ME", "ME", "ME" and "Myself" can love ourselves too much and then expect others to keep "UP" with US (usual sinners).

    I hear YA Manny! Please only speak for yourself Victor! (lol)

    God Bless Peace

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    1. Thank you so much for sharing with us. God bless you always.

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God bless you.

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