Most of us have neighbors. Some of those neighbors are friends, others are acquaintances, and some we never talk to. We know what “neighbor” feels like. Yet when we hear about our neighbors in a scriptural context, we often think differently. When Jesus says in Matthew 22:39, “love your neighbor as yourself”, our minds often go to far off people and places, i.e. mission trips and making donations.
That’s not what Jesus meant.
Not that those things are bad. I went on a mission trip once to Haiti, that was life changing. Giving money is also a good thing, in fact we’re called to do so. The point here is that many of us could trip over those in our lives who need our help, instead providing for others elsewhere.
I used to be guilty of this. I used to think that stroking checks was enough. It was like I compartmentalized my life. I’d go to Mass, periodically donating my time and talents, but never integrating my “Church” life into my everyday life. That’s changed now. Praise God!!!
I have a friend named Ennie Hickman, who is the President of Adore Ministries. In Houston and at other places throughout the country, Adore serves the poor and marginalized. They do this in many ways, including and especially being good neighbors. Ennie and his wife, Cana, for years have been hosting neighborhood dinners, sharing the love of Christ with more than 100 neighbors at their house each week. Yes, Cana is going straight to Heaven.
Ennie, who is also a national speaker, states the following, “when Jesus said that we are to love our neighbors as ourselves, did you know that he meant our real neighbors, not someone theoretical, metaphorical, or in a far-off land? He meant our neighbor neighbors, our next store neighbors, those we see every day in the grocery store or the post office. We are to love those closest to us first”.
How are you loving those in your house? In your neighborhood? Those closest to you on a daily basis? Those in your extended family? Maybe an older, lonely relative? Did you know that 50% of those in nursing homes go the entire year without seeing a single visitor?
We have so many opportunities, far and near, to minister to others, to love others…..to love our neighbors as ourselves.
Pope Francis reminds us that we all need to get our hands dirty, helping the poor and the marginalized. You don’t have to be in ministry to do ministry. There are so many opportunities to show the love of Christ to those around us, starting with our neighbors.
So much of America and this world loves things and uses people. We are called to use things and love people. Let’s start with our neighbor neighbors, as Ennie would remind us.
Please comment to me at Mark@MarkJosephMinistries.com.
May God Bless you on your journey to Peace, Joy, and Fulfillment!!!