Failing to Love My Neighbor

Today’s readings:
Letter of St. James 2:1-9
Psalms 34:2-7
Gospel of Mark 8:27-33

Jesus kept things simple for me: (1) love God; (2) love your neighbor as your own self. The first reading today reminds me that my neighbor is not just the rich, but the poor. I should not treat the poor differently. Do I? The prideful part of me would say no, since I’ve overcome my objections to giving money to the poor. The best way to counter my own greed is through charity. Yet if I’m honest with myself, then I’d admit the many times I give money without genuine compassion. I may look at them and force a smile, but my heart is still closed. I know because I don’t want to sit down and have a conversation with them. I have other things to do.

I want to spend time with my family. It’s a huge sacrifice that I’m not ready to make. This is what I tell myself.

And the poor men and women who beg outside of Church on Sundays are not the most desperate. They are there almost every weekend. What about the children in the orphanages? Or, the widows and the elderly tucked away in the outskirts of town? I’ve convinced myself that by donating a few coins every weekend, I’ve done my duty; I’m being charitable. The Holy Spirit is reminding me that that is not enough. I shouldn’t get complacent. The cries of the poor are louder elsewhere. Any churchgoer can give out a few coins. It takes creative love, real self-sacrifice, to seek out the orphans and the widows and ask myself, “What can I do?” But I’m not ready, yet.

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