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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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