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Love of Neighbor, Love of God

August 29, 2017 by  
Filed under Book Club, Sarah Reinhard

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Love of Neighbor, Love of God

The Lord (Week 11 of 23)

My nerves are frayed.

If one. more. person. asks something of me, I will explode.

In fact, I will not just explode, but probably also implode.

It's NOT impossible. I can feel the truth of it in my bones.

And then, it happens.

It's the smallest thing, so inconsequential I don't even remember it. And despite that overwhelming, drowning sensation, I find myself doing the thing I could not do.

…it is impossible to love God without loving your neighbor. Love is a stream that flows from God to me, from me to my neighbor (and not to one only, but to all), from my neighbor back to God.

The Lord (Part IV: Chapter 2, Paragraph 9)

For me, so often, love of neighbor is as seemingly unimportant as answering a call, as singing a lullabye, as packing a lunch. I find myself shuttling people who will be driving all too soon, caring for those who wish they could do it themselves, and appreciating quiet in a way my 20-year-old self would have never understood.

I'm stretched beyond what I ever thought possible, in ways that are hilarious and ridiculous when held under the scrutinizing light of reason.

How can filling a cup with milk put me over any sort of edge? Why does answering the same question 20 times fill my mind with static buzzing? Who am I to begrudge these blessings in front of me, all around me?

And how about the non-children in my life? Because I'd be giving you the wrong impression if I led you to believe that it was just people under age 20 who grate on me, who demand love, who force me closer to Christ even though I in no way deserve it.

…the person who just wants to talllllllk…

…the person who needs a favor…

…the person who needs me to do this or that…

My neighbors, it seems, are a demanding bunch, and I don't even know some of them. Some of them, like the older woman my toddler kissed during the Sign of Peace at Mass, don't require any effort to love.

And others…well. You see how I am.

And I'm sure I'm not alone.

Right?

But if I want to love God — love as a verb, love as an action, love as it's meant to be, inasmuch as I will ever get close to it — then I have to love my neighbors.

And that means doing. That means being. That means all the things that push and pull me. That means the stretch and reach.

Because the love of God is the love of neighbor; the love of neighbor is the love of God.

The image that Guardini paints of love as a stream resonates with me: that's just how it is, even when the stream is coming from a kid who didn't make it to the potty, or from a spilled cup (that might have been my own fault!), or from a pipe left untended.

If I let the stream flow, it will lead me closer to God. And that's right where I need to be.

Reading Assignment:

Part 4: Ch. VI-VIII

Discussion Questions:

1. How can you connect your love of God with love of neighbor this week? Love can take many forms and be shown in many different ways. Look for an unlikely neighbor, and try to show God love through that person.

2. The Church is “the fullness of grace functioning in history.” How can you love God through the Church this week?

Feel free to comment on anything from our assignment this past week!

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About Sarah Reinhard

Sarah Reinhard continues to delight ”and be challenged by” her vocations of Catholic wife and mother. She's online at SnoringScholar.com and is the author of a number of books for families.

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  • Mary Therese

    We had so much going on this summer that I didn’t join in on this book. But it has been brought to my attention at least 3 times in the past week…hmmm…is there a reason for that? Interestingly, I HAVE been reading (on my own) “Meditations before Mass” by Guardini–and I never made the connection until 2 days ago.

    And Sarah, your post today really hit home. I know how I can love my neighbor this week…I think God has been asking me to do a particular something for a couple weeks now, and I’ve been avoiding the issue. Time to just DO it. Now, how to love God through the Church? That one might take a little thought. Open to suggestions!

    Meanwhile…need to see if I can find a copy of this book and try to catch up! Thanks for continuing with your efforts here, even if it seems like it’s not reaching many (any?). It is appreciated!

  • Ann Marie

    I have not received this book as I’ve been out of town for most of the summer, but your post here really struck home. Short on patience, I’ve lost more than one friend because I was getting depressed trying to help them again and again, and never taking my advice (or anyone else’s as far as I could see), they just kept rehashing the same old, same old, same old, problems. It became tedious and frustrating to me and I started avoiding them. Not very christian of me, was it. Their problems were real, but I could not understand why they just were paralyzed as far as trying to work their ways out of it. I almost got the feeling they enjoyed being victims. I ended up losing their friendship, instead of being able to help them.

  • Nancy Janasz

    I’m only in Part 2 thus far. I want to mention with regard to the above comments that in Part 2, Chapter IV, we are reminded that Jesus doesn’t answer every need in the moment that it is requested. He lives according to the will of the Father which involves doing things when his time comes. Somewhere, Guardini references the Wedding of Cana and Jesus’ time hasn’t come when Mary first mentions the wine, but she submits to this and tells the servants to do whatever he tells them. Then, suddenly, his time comes and he tells them what to do. In Part 2, Chapter IV, p. 118 in my book, it says, “Jesus replies: My time has not yet come. Your time, it is true, is always there.” I think Guardini is emphasizing that if we are relying on ourselves, we are always going to feel the burden of life and not have peace. The trick is to align with the will of the Father and only busy oneself with His call to you. Another scripture about the yolk being easy and the burden light comes to mind as well.

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