As a high school youth minister, I too often hear that young people are not attracted to Christianity because there are too many hypocrites, too many people who claim to be Christian who treat others like crap. And my response is… you are absolutely correct. There ARE many hypocrites in our faith and it is devastating to ALL of us when we treat our neighbor poorly.
Who is our neighbor you may ask? I guess my answer would be anyone who is not you! Sorry I couldn’t be more specific. Our readings for Sunday point out a few groups in particular, like immigrants, for example. I see many Christians who justify their hatred for illegal immigrants as ‘JUST’. Hatred for our neighbor is never OK, as God is calling us to something deeper. God is calling us to welcome aliens to our country! Now this is not a political rant as I agree that there should be LEGAL was for aliens to come to our country and that illegal actions should not be justified. But I digress…
Another group mentioned, widows or orphans. I would say this refers to those who are lonely or have no one to stand up for them. How many of us know a widow or orphan? Not too many of us do. But how many lonely and or defenseless people do we know? God hears their cries! This ranges from the cries of the unborn, to those who have been abandoned or neglected worldwide, to that kid at your school no one talks to… They all need someone to stand up for them, to care for them, to show love to them.
Another group mentioned is the poor! I hear many people not want to help the poor with money for fear of what they will do with their charity! There are many ways to help the poor besides giving away that dollar at a stop light!
Here’s the thing… no matter the who our neighbor is or what the situation is, we can recognize a true Christian by their love. If you have good and true relationship with God, it merely means you are open to Him, His movements, and you openly receive His love into your life. If you have a good and true relationship with God, His love overflows out of you, so showing love for your neighbor is oftentimes effortless! To hate or treat your neighbor poorly would be more difficult if you are tight with the big guy upstairs. Likewise, if you are God are tight, it is easier to be kind to others, to share what you have, to encourage, to visit, to feed, to give, to live out the love you encounter with the God who has blessed you so abundantly. You'd have an endless fuel tank of grace!
Knowing this, Christ reminds us of our primary calling, the Greatest Commandment(s): Love God with everything you are, then (with the love you’ve received from Him) love your neighbor as yourself.
So if you have shown hatred recently, if you have wished ill will, if you have lied or done someone harm in some way, or decided NOT to do something you SHOULD have done… I challenge you… How are YOU and God right now? Are you letting Him fill you with His love, peace and joy? During Mass this Sunday, pray that He may take up more space in your heart and soul, then do something kind!
Word up. I am Stacy, the youth minister of this amazing group of teens. I have 4 kids of my own, 2 heaven babies and like 60 teens I consider very large children of my own.