Excerpts from Responding to His Call to Love

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Responding to His Call to Love

By Fredi D'Alessio

And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets." (Mt 22:37-40)

In a previous writing (View from the Top), I quoted a reflection by Pope John Paul II on praying the Rosary, which succinctly presents us with the domestic and foreign policy we are called by God to embrace:

All of the 'fruits of charity' above - products of our “encounter with Christ in his mysteries” - must not be allowed to perish. They become useless if stored away. We must give them away by living them out in our daily lives – by acting upon the desires, resolves, feelings, and yearnings which they evoke. It would be helpful if we include the Holy Father’s reflection as part of our intentions when we begin to pray the Rosary. We must make them our own, and because we must have an intimate knowledge of ourselves, it would also be helpful to examine our progress.

Needed first, perhaps, is an increased spirit of joy. An Advent meditation suggests that in order to cultivate a joyful spirit, we must first reject self-pity. It goes on to say "the daily news reports can be toxic. Too much exposure to the woes of the world can be damaging to your mental health, as well as your spirit of joy", and suggests we limit our television viewing. There are many good reasons for us to limit that very intake, but doing so in order to shield ourselves from the woes of the world may actually leave us committing a deplorable act of self-pity.

We cannot empty ourselves of self-pity by focusing on ourselves, by turning our backs on others or burying our heads in the sand. We cannot risk deceiving ourselves into believing that if we do not see the horrors which many of our brothers and sisters throughout the world are daily confronted with, they are not happening. That is to inadvertently risk exempting us from caring enough about their plights to help. Surely if members of our immediate families were suffering, we would not risk 'tuning them out' so that we would not have to suffer with them. Shall we then tune out any others? Rather, we need to tune ourselves out and tune the world in.

God arranged for us to be on this earth during these times - times in which technology enables us to be informed about what is happening to our brethren all over the world. In many ways, perhaps there isn’t enough coverage of the most serious woes of the world.

We should share in the sorrows of those who are suffering. We cannot allow ourselves to be overcome by sadness, but we should be appalled when others suffer due to injustice, negligence or contempt. Being emotionally deaf, dumb and blind to the world will not bring us joy. In order to answer the call to love, we must balance our emotions - not bury them or hide from them. We would do well to develop a deeply devotional prayer regimen on our neighbors’ behalf with the hope that one day we may share their joys.

To avoid cultivating a selfish joy, we must respond to the simple call to love. Then, merely seeing a smile on another's face could bring us immense joy, especially if circumstances have prevented this person from smiling for a very long time.

One very prominent obstacle that hinders our response is resentment. This feeling of ill will is toxic to the 'fruits of charity'. This lingering anger chokes our hearts with living thorns, so that when the seeds of the fruits of charity are sown among those thorns, they prove unfruitful. Resentment needs to be conquered by the very love - the antidote - that it has grown resistant to. Although it may seem nearly impossible to overcome, it isn’t; we can chip away at resentment one Rosary bead at a time.

These actions will also bring forth a greater response to the call to love:

In all of the above we will find opportunities for fulfilling those corporal and spiritual works of mercy to which He calls us: feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, burying the dead, counseling the doubtful, instructing the ignorant, admonishing sinners, comforting the afflicted, forgiving offenses, bearing wrongs patiently, praying for the living and the dead.

When we serve our sisters and brothers we serve God:

Oh, that today you would hear his voice: Harden not your hearts. (Heb 4:7) If today we hear his voice, let us respond to His call with a loving heart - by giving away the 'fruits of charity' as we live them out in our daily lives.

In responding prayerfully, actively, joyfully to the simple call to love, we cannot fail to "make this world more beautiful, more just, more closely conformed to God's plan".

As individuals we can do little things with great love, and as a nation we can do greater things with great love. We can be a great people - people of truth, light, forgiveness, joy, life, peace, faith, hope, love – people of God.

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