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Monday, first Week of Lent

February 11, 2008

Blessed Our Lady of Lourdes’ Day! (look for the story in the “saints of Lent” category)

Readings:
Leviticus 19:1-2, 11-18 (specific ways to love our neighbor)
Psalm 19: 8-15 “Your words Lord, are spirit and life”
+Matthew 25:31-46 (what we do to others, we do to God)

When we do something that harms another person, directly or indirectly, it’s usually because we don’t know it would cause harm or because we expect to be able to get away with it–we think we won’t get caught, or the other person’s not powerful enough to resist.

Knowing this, God sets up safeguards in exactly these areas of risk.

He tells us what harms others–stealing from them, lying to or about them, taking advantage of their weakness (cursing the deaf, making the blind stumble), letting our judgment be skewed by sympathy or cowardice, standing idly by when someone’s life is at stake, failing to lovingly correct someone who’s harmed us, cherishing a grudge, taking revenge. We can’t legitimately plead ignorance.

God also makes it plain that when we harm others, we’re answerable to Him. “I AM the Lord” (Leviticus 19:12).

People might not catch us in the act but…“I AM the Lord” (Leviticus 19:14). The Lord sees all.

They might not be powerful enough to do anything about it but…“I AM the Lord” (Leviticus 19:16). All power in Heaven and on earth is His (Matthew 28:18).

We can’t put the stamp of “truth” on our own wishful thinking and foist it off on others. “I AM the Lord!” (Leviticus 19:18). He is Truth (John 14:6).

This may sound like it’s all for the benefit of others, but what goes around comes around. Since God stands up to us, we can also expect Him to stand up for us.

Jesus makes this very personal, putting a whole new angle on the command to “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39). He loves us so much, unites Himself with us so completely, that whatever is done to us is done to Him. “As often as you did it for one of My least brothers, you did it for Me” (Matthew 25:40). God’s not a referee, watching from the sidelines of life. Every foul against us is a foul against Him because we are His Body! (see Ephesians 1:22-23, Colossians 1:18). Our God, Who cannot suffer in Himself, suffers in us, who are His Body.

But God not only suffers in us, He also rejoices in us. Whatever good is done to us is also done to God. He is refreshed when someone gives us a cup of cold water (or hot cocoa, as might be more suitable in this frigid Wisconsin winter!), comforted when we are visited on our bed of pain.

He loves to reward us. “Come, share your Master’s joy!” (Matthew 25:21). He prepared Heaven for us from the creation of the world (see Matthew 25:34), unlike hell, which was prepared for the devil and his fallen angels (not for us). Notice that He doesn’t say Heaven was prepared for the good angels…but for us!

May love as we are loved, doing for others what God does for love of us.

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