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Love of Neighbor in Jesus’ Life

October 24, 2017 by  
Filed under Book Club, Sarah Reinhard

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Love of Neighbor in Jesus' Life

The Lord (Week 19 of 23)


The whole purpose of Jesus' life is to replace our human conceptions of God; not only the primitive, grotesque, but also the highest, purest, and most refined. These above all. Certainly, God is omnipresent, exalted over time and space; yet he also can come when it pleases him; can live among us, and when the hour has struck, can depart and return—with a new countenance.

[N]o one ever conceived the God of Scriptures as revealed in Jesus Christ: “the living God.” He is a mystery, penetrable only through the mind of Christ. For that exists: understanding of something strange and foreign to us through a person. Love breaks open the seal on his heart and spirit. In communion with Christ's heart, our own is suddenly able to experience that of which it is incapable alone. Our spirit stretches to measure up to Christ's, and thereby grasps much that it never could have grasped by itself.

The Lord, Part 6: Ch. IV, Paragraphs 8-9

What is our image of God? For some of us, it's a struggle to take an image of a parent and see God in that place. (Dare I say for most of us?) Our parents, after all, were, well, human. They were limited in a way God is not.

God is all these things we can't really grasp: ever-present, all-knowing, perfect. I know I'm supposed to be awed and impressed as I start to reel of these items, but I mostly feel wearied by them.

So who among us, given the chance to “create” a human version of God, would have come up with Jesus?

Not me. And I'm betting not you, either.

In Jesus, we have God, and it's a god who is relatable, even as he is perfect. Jesus shows us God in a way we can see and feel and understand: words on a page only take you so far; the experience and interaction with the person of God in Jesus is worth far more.

In grasping Jesus, we reach to God. We strive, and in that striving, we stretch farther than we would have without Jesus.

We become more. We are more, and we are more thanks to God coming in the humanity of Jesus.

That brings us to each other.

Everywhere we feel the closed doors to sacred revelation pushing outward from within. Everywhere the coldness and weight of self stifle the warmth of self-surrendering intimacy. To be a “neighbor” in the Christian sense means to suspend the I-not-you, mine-not-thine without the evil consequences of blurred or lost individuality and dignity. Genuine love of neighbor is impossible through human strength alone; it necessitates something new which comes from God and which surpasses the logic of mere human differentiation or unification: the love of the Holy Spirit among men. Christian love does not attempt to fuse the I and the you, or to impose upon them an attitude of selflessness that would annihilate the individual. It is the disposition of reciprocal openness and autonomy together, that simultaneous intimacy and dignity which comes from the Holy Ghost.

The Lord, Part 6: Ch. VI, Paragraph 12

Do we really understand what it means to love another? Can we ever see past our own selfishness, past our own selves, to the genuine love of neighbor Jesus calls us to?

Yes, we can, but only because of Jesus.

In Jesus, we are given the example to follow, the model we can live up to. Our goal? To love God. The way we do that is through the messiness of life, through the awkwardness and challenges of interactions with other humans.

Which leads us to love of neighbor.

Loving our neighbor doesn't mean that we lose who we are, that we are ever less than who God created us to be.

In fact, loving our neighbor leads us ever closer to God, who humbled himself to become as us, fully human. Loving our neighbor is thus loving God, just as Jesus did.

Reading Assignment:

Part 6: Ch. 7-10

Discussion Questions:

1. Who is the neighbor you're called to “love” today? What small act or sacrifice can you make for them?

2. Where can you plan to encounter Jesus today? Will you stop by a church and pray? Or will you find him in another person you will serve? Wherever and however you meet him, be open to what he has to offer you in this day.

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 and is the author of a number of books for families.

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