Love Our Neighbor...and Vote!
A few months ago I was having dinner with family and saw a banner on a church that said: "Love Thy Neighbor...no exceptions". I was struck by the thought that it really IS that simple, and we human beings make it so very complicated, don't we?
I guess I am pondering two questions:
Who is my neighbor? and, Why do we make it so complicated?
Standing as I do in my catholic faith, I know the answer is that all people are my neighbor. I don't always feel comfortable with this, and most days I'm challenged by this in big and little ways. I didn't rise to the occasion so well last night when I had to wait for a neighbor (really, a neighbor in my building!!) as she unloaded a ton of garbage from the only elevator we have when all I wanted to do was get to my apartment and relax after a long day at work. I was ashamed of myself when another neighbor graciously helped her unload the elevator when all I could do was grudgingly hold the door for her. I could have been so much better, if I was thinking of someone else but me.
In Sunday's Gospel, Jesus reminds us that our greatest commandment is to love God and our neighbor. And yet, we find so many ways to make this way too complicated. We argue semantics over who our neighbor is,when we know the truth, Jesus meant everyone, even and especially the folks we don't gravitate towards naturally, even the ones who make us angry, those who speak a different language, even the folks who we disagree with.
It occurred to me this morning that this would be a great gospel to keep in prayer as I prepare to go vote next Tuesday. I'll be glad when the elections are over for several reasons, not the least of which is that the negative ads on the television are so disturbing. Perhaps the most encouraging thing I've heard lately about voting is the plea that all of us who can vote, must use this privilege-no matter which party or candidate we choose...we must exercise and use our right to vote. I agree with that.
Because in my deepest core I have to believe that faithful voices raised in meaningful, respectful dialogue can change the course of history. It doesn't happen quickly and it takes great patience, but change does happen. Our Judeo-Christian values...heck, even basic humanistic values, can lead us back to those two commandments, Love God and Neighbor...and act accordingly!!
So if we are honest with ourselves, we know darn well who our neighbor is, and we know exactly what we're supposed to do...love them in every action and way we can. It's not complicated. It is hard, for sure...to love others. But just because it's hard doesn't mean we don't have to do it. Lots of things in life are hard and we do them anyway because we want the good results (dieting, exercising and school work come to mind).
Are we up for the challenge of loving our neighbor? I hope so! And I hope and pray we go to the voting booth on Tuesday contemplating how our choices will show our love for one another.
Peace and good.