God and neighbor
We have to realize this reality more deeply. We often take it for granted. While we may appear to be close to God because we pray, we profess our faith in him publicly, etc., it may turn out to be only a sham, because how we treat our neighbor, who actually can be anybody and everybody, belies our supposed closeness to God.
This is because how we treat others can actually show how we treat God. If we are indifferent to the others, we can actually say that we are also indifferent to God, even if our appearance may seem otherwise. If we hate someone, we can also say that we are hating God.
Why? Because if we truly are believers and lovers of God, then there’s no other way but also for us to truly be lovers of everyone else, no matter, how the other is. God loves everyone, even if not everyone may love him in return.
Let’s remember that our love for God cannot be separated from our love for others. Christ spelled out this point clearly when he clarified what the greatest commandment was. He immediately added that while the greatest commandment is to love God with all our strength, the second greatest commandment is to love our neighbor. (cfr. Mt 22,36-40)
Loving God and loving our neighbor are inseparable. If we love God, then we have to love our neighbor. And this love for neighbor was further clarified by Christ when he gave us the new
commandment which is to love our neighbor as he himself has loved us. (cfr. Jn 13,34)
We know that the love of God for us as shown and lived in full by Christ is universal and inclusive. It excludes no one. It is even offered to those who do not love God. This is the kind of love that we have to live and give to everyone, just as God in Christ gave it on the cross and continues to give to everyone until forever.
This universal love for our neighbor should be shown from our heart of hearts through our attitude towards everyone, through our intentions, words and deeds towards others, through our willingness to bear the burdens of the others, etc.
Thus, we can say that how we are with the others would also show how we are with God. How we look at them, how we deal with them, etc., would also show how we look and deal with God.
St. John said it very succinctly that “we cannot love God, whom we have not seen, if we do not love others, whom we have seen.” (1 Jn 4,20) Christ himself reiterated this point when he said, “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Mt 25,40)
We all need to examine how our attitude is toward everyone, because that would really show in concrete ways how our attitude is toward God. Do we still have negative thoughts against someone? Do we still hold grudges against someone, finding it difficult to forgive? Etc.
Let’s remember what Christ said in this regard. “If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive yours.” (Mt 6,14-15)
Do we really keep a keen interest in others, trying to know and love them the way they are without forgetting to help them to be the way they ought to be? This is how Christ treated us and continues to treat us. He is all there for us.
In other words, to see if we really love God, all we need to do is to see if we really love everyone, not only in intentions and nice, sweet words, but also in deeds!*
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