Are we competing with our neighbors or helping them?
This week's reflection is written by
Rev. Richard R. DeLillio, OSFS.
God’s vision for His created world was perfect! After we were created, God expected us to get along. If anyone needed help, neighbors would be their helpers. God was pleased with His plan. Since salvation is a gift given graciously and freely to everyone who desires it, God saw no reason for any of His created beings to compete with one another for anything.
With all of us having heaven as the same destination where everyone is welcome to enter, God was satisfied with the plan. And when Jesus came along, He sealed this plan with His greatest commandment: love God, and love our neighbors, as ourselves. In fact, Jesus even told us how much love we need to share with others. He said: Love them as I love you. With this added dimension we now are able to see how serious Jesus is with His commandment. He didn’t want us to be rivals with our neighbors, rather He wanted us to be of assistance to them in a loving way.
God desires that we live fruitful lives while living on this earth. And to that end, God sprinkled His whole creation with gifts to foster our growth. Everyone received gifts, but not identical. Each of us has enough to be the person God wanted each to become. And if someone needed a little assistance, God expected neighbors to share and pitch in.
However, God didn’t want us to behave as Esau and Jacob did. In the Old Testament, Esau and Jacob, the sons of Isaac, competed with one another for their father’s inheritance. Jacob outwitted Esau and won that contest, but he left many hurt feelings.
However, God loves His created family equally. Everyday His love and mercy fall as a gentle rain on everyone, the good and the bad. Through Jesus’ greatest commandment, God saw opposition as not necessary. For when we love those around us, we show our gratitude to Jesus for His loving us.
Everything God gives us is for sharing and not for storing in barns. Our shared gifts show our diversity, delighting God who enjoys a variety of color, freshness, and brilliance, rather than the flatness of uniformity.
In a diverse world, struggling neighbors can more easily meet challenges encountered on their journey with appropriate resolutions found from the assortment of others’ talents and skills. God expects those who have what’s needed, to help those who lack what’s need. When we do, we love this neighbor in God’s place and God’s nearness is felt in that struggling neighbor.
The person in need sees God as answering his or her prayers through another. In gratitude for God loving us, we love our neighbor in God’s place. What you do for the least of my disciples you do for Me.
When we see neighbors as needing our gifts, and we share our gifts, we find new neighbors. What delights God most is when we do it without asking about religion, ethnic background, or politics. We simply offer what they need for their journey to God’s kingdom. In this way, we follow Pope Francis’ recommendation, when encountering another “see people first.” See, not an opinion, not a religion, not a political party. See simply people! Jesus sees people first and we love Him for that.
It is when we reach a place in life, where we can look around and see people as the same as us, that we are seeing the bright light of the Kingdom. They are people not only to be with, but to be for. We are with neighbors who are enthusiastic about being the person God created them to be. When we are all working towards being the best me we can become. It is only then that we most resemble the God who created us. Then we are living in His image and likeness. And God smiles upon us.
Be who you are and be that well as a testament to the master craftsman who created you.
-St. Francis De Sales