There is no doubt that this has been a trying year for all of us. We’ve heard the saying often this year: “We’re all in this together”. But what is really meant by that. I believe as I hope you do too is that we must love each other despite our shortcomings.
Charity, also known as Love, is the final virtue in this series of blog posting. The Catechism of Catholic Church defines charity as “the theological virtue by which we love God above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God.” CCC 1822
So how do we practice and grow in this virtue? St. Paul’s Love Discourse in 1 Cor. 13 gives us some good guidelines to put into practice. We often hear this passage at weddings and it is indeed a good meditation for a loving marriage. But if we really consider what that passage is telling us we should use it as our guide for our relationship with our neighbors as well, even the strangers among us we don’t even know. St. Paul tells us “Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 1Cor.13:4-7
If we do not love, we fail to keep the first and principle commandment of God: You shall Worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve. Because God loves us first we are called to respond with love for Him. CCC 2083-2084 By putting into practices the Love that St. Paul speaks about we will be on our way to fulfilling the Great Commandment that Jesus speaks of as the whole of the law and the prophets: “You shall Love the Lord your God with All your Heart, and with All your Soul, and with All your Mind…You shall love your neighbor as yourself”Mt.22:37-40 and thereby fulfilling the First Commandment.
[Through] Charity, we love God above all things and our neighbor as ourselves for love of God. Charity, the form of the virtues, “binds everything together in perfect harmony.” CCC 1844 Charity is the basis of all the virtues.
Living the virtue of charity is important these days. We need to love our enemies, pray for those who persecute us and forgive those who wronged us. How do we move past our annoyances, our criticisms and judgement and toward charity for others? One way is to see the face of Jesus in everyone we meet. If we see Jesus in our neighbor how likely are we to be rude or jealous or resentful. It is only through the grace of God that we are able to follow the “narrow path”. Charity is the greatest social commandments that inspires a life of self-giving. CCC 1889
Jesus gives us a new commandment: “Love on another as I have loved you” (John 15:12) It sounds so simple but as we all know this is the hardest thing to do. “True charity consists in bearing all our neighbor’s defects — not being surprised at their weakness, but edified at their smallest virtues.” St. Theresa of Lisieux
How will you love your neighbor today?
Photo by Nina Strehl on Unsplash