First of all, I don’t believe it is necessary to be Christian to show love to your neighbor. There are many Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and members of other faiths who understand and practice love and generosity towards strangers. In fact some of the most generous people I know aren’t even religious.
This is, however, a discussion of a sort of separation of religious belief from the practices of everyday life that is practiced by many who claim to be Christian.
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
A contemplation of the Beatitudes by St. Gregory of Nyssa (380 A.D.)
"Beatitude is a possession of all things held to be good,
from which nothing is absent that a good desire may want.
Perhaps the meaning of beatitude may become clearer to us
if it is compared with its opposite.
Now the opposite of beatitude is misery.
Misery means being afflicted unwillingly with painful sufferings."
Surely Paul Ryan and other conservatives do not believe that by creating situations where people are “poor in spirit” – hopeless- or in mourning, or by taking even more necessities from the poor, or by war mongering they are giving people a chance to be blessed? How kind of them to do so. How generous.
For those who claim to be Catholic:
Condensed version of Pope Benedict XV!’s Encyclical on Love:
…“The Parable of the Good Samaritan (see Lk 10:25-37) offers two particularly important clarifications. Until that time, the concept of “neighbor” was understood as referring essentially to one’s countrymen and to foreigners who had settled in the land of Israel; in other words, to the closely-knit community of a single country or people. This limit is now abolished. Anyone who needs me, and whom I can help, is my neighbor. The concept of “neighbor” is now universalized, yet it remains concrete.
…‘If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen” (1 Jn 4:20). The whole context of the passage quoted from the First Letter of John shows that such love is explicitly demanded. The unbreakable bond between love of God and love of neighbor is emphasized. One is so closely connected to the other that to say that we love God becomes a lie if we are closed to our neighbor or hate him altogether.
Here we see the necessary interplay between love of God and love of neighbor which the First Letter of John speaks of with such insistence. Only if I serve my neighbor can my eyes be opened to what God does for me and how much he loves me. The saints—consider the example of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta—constantly renewed their capacity for love of neighbor from their encounter with the Eucharistic Lord, and conversely this encounter acquired its realism and depth in their service to others.
Love of God and love of neighbor are thus inseparable; they form a single commandment. Love grows through love. Love is “divine” because it comes from God and unites us to God; through this unifying process it makes us a “we” which transcends our divisions and makes us one, until in the end God is “all in all” (1 Cor 15:28).”
From the February 8, 2012 edition of the National Catholic Register:
Pope Reminds Catholics to Grow in Charity This Lent (1559)
Benedict XVI's Lenten message focuses on serving others, 'the very heart of Christian life.'
Congressman Ryan IS a busy man. The pope made it easy for him though. He could have followed the pope’s daily tweets during Lent encapsulating this message in short sound bites. Perhaps he did. That would make his lack of compassion even more mysterious.
The message in the Pope’s encyclical and in his Lenten message is that everyone is your neighbor. That by helping your neighbor you help yourself become closer to God, and by being closer to God you become closer to your neighbor. You develop a positive feedback loop.
I’m trying to understand how Paul Ryan got through Catechism and failed to understand these concepts. How can one devise plans that deny income to the elderly, or deny basic healthcare to any age group and see those plans as being compatible with, let alone exemplary of, their Catholic faith?
Many Christians are made uncomfortable with the teachings of Jesus. The teachings don’t make it easy to deny others a basic living at the same time that efforts are made to direct all of the wealth to the wealthy and their cronies. The concept of regarding everyone as your neighbor, of aiding those in need without judging them, is hard to accept for some. Jesus did not regard greed and selfishness as virtues.
It often seems that those who proclaim most loudly to be Christian, those who most vociferously proclaimed Barack Obama to be a Muslim, and who wanted to deny his citizenship, act most questionably Christian in their daily dealings with their neighbors.
Maybe every session of Congress should start with images of children who get up to go to school, leave without breakfast, and sit through morning classes only to find that money for their lunch has been cut off.
Maybe on some days the session should start with scenes of the elderly whose Social Security has been cut, trying to figure out how to pay for health insurance under the new Ryan plan where the purchase price is greater than their annual income.
Maybe then Congress could engage in prayer; a prayer in which they ask for wisdom and the capacity to show mercy to those less fortunate.