The lesson we have to learn from today's gospel hardly needs any emphasizing. We must, if we are truly Christian, forgive those who offend or injure us. We must love all of our neighbors, whether they be friends or enemies. G. K. Chesterton says, "We are commanded to love our neighbors and our enemies; they are generally the same people." This is very true for all of us. For some, it is very easy to love (in a theoretical way) all sorts of people who live in far away lands because they never come in direct contact with us and never directly impact our lives. But it is our neighbors, those among us where we live and work, who are liable to injure us directly and thus become our enemies. Charity begins at home, because it is here that it can and should be learned and practiced. It is first and foremost necessary for Christian peace in the home. Husbands and wives must learn to understand and tolerate each other's imperfections and faults. If one offends in what the other would regard as something serious, the offended one should not demand an apology but should show forgiveness before the other as they humbly apologize.
No two persons in the world, not even identical twins, can agree on all things, so it is vain and unrealistic to expect even one's married partner to agree with one in all points. Christian charity alone can cover the multitude of faults of both partners.
If there is peace and harmony between a husband and wife, as there will be if both are truly charitable, the children will learn too to be understanding and forgiving.
Such a home will be a truly happy home even if it has little of the world's riches. Our charity must spread from the home to our neighbors– to all those with whom we have contact. It is easy to get along with most people, but in every neighborhood and in every village or town there will always be those who are difficult. There will be the dishonest, those who spread gossip, those who create conflict, and those who are critical of everyone and everything. It is when we have dealings with such people that all our Christian charity is necessary. Most likely we will never be able to change their ways of acting, but charity will enable us to tolerate their faults and will move us to pray for their eternal welfare.
Life for many, if not for most people, has many dark, gloomy and despairing moments. The man or woman who is moved by true Christian charity can bring a beam of sunshine, a ray of hope, into the lives of these people. Try to be the one who spreads the sunny smile of true love, the kindly word of Christian encouragement, the helping hand of true charity, and not only will you brighten the darkness and lighten the load of your neighbor but you will be imitating in your own small way the perfect Father of love who is in heaven.
He Would Love First!
October 24, 2020
A July Faith Formation Series – Part IV – APOSTOLIC