Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Loving Neighbors: No Matter What

Jesus said that the law was, essentially: 'Love God, love your neighbor.' (Matthew 22:36-40) The Catholic Church has had almost two thousand years to think about that - and how - that the "love your neighbor" thing applies to families. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2197-2206, 2232-2233)

For Catholics, the 'neighbors' idea is connected with - what else? - rules about the duties of:
  • Children (2214-2220)
  • Parents (2221-2231)
  • People in authority (2234-2237)
  • People subject to authority (2238-2243)
    (links are to the Catechism of the Catholic Church)
There are even rules about the political community and the Church (Catechism, 2244-2246)

None of which says that it's okay to call your neighbor names, or burn a book in public that your neighbor respects. I've opined about that sort of thing before, including posts under Somewhat-related posts, below.

Corresponding With a Terrorist?!

There's something to the claim that the Catholic Church tells people not to do stuff. For example, we're not supposed to snub folks who are in prison (Matthew 25:36, 39-40). Which gets me to something from today's news:
"...Carlos Turrin Villanueva spent 10 years behind bars for the crime of terrorism at the Castro Castro Prison in Lima, Peru.

"Turrin, who was released in 1999, told CNA that months before receiving the papal letter, he had written to John Paul II without expecting a response. 'He was so busy and received so many letters that I never thought he would take notice of a prisoner,' Turrin said.

"In his message, the Pope thanked Turrin for writing to him and offered his prayers that 'through the intercession of the Most Holy Virgin Mary, the Lord will strengthen you in the faith and grant you continual peace and Christian prosperity.' He also bestowed an apostolic blessing on Turrin and his loved ones.

"Turrin recalled the difficulties of living the Christian life and evangelizing inside the prison...."
(Catholic News Agency)
I think that anecdote is a pretty good example of why we're supposed to love our neighbor - even when it isn't easy. Loving people who don't act well - while not approving of what they do - is, I think, a somewhat counter-cultural thing to do.

I've written about the Catholic Church's failure to 'fit it' with local cultures before:
A sort of bottom line for me is that fitting in is nice - but doing what is right is better.

'God is on My Side?' Or 'I'm on God's Side?'

I've written about malignant virtue before, too:
Vicious self-righteousness isn't an American monopoly, I think. I discussed what happened recently in Egypt in another blog:
I think it's important to point out that although 3,000 Muslims burned churches - others did not. Some Muslims in Egypt demonstrated with Christians after the church-burnings, demanding protection for Egypt's Coptic Christians. Some of the motivation may have been simply practical: the protesting Muslims might realize that they could be next on the arsonists' hit list. I prefer to believe that there was a moral factor involved, too.

The Catholic Church makes it pretty clear that it's a good idea to do the will of God. (Catechism, 2822-2827)

Which, remember, includes loving our neighbors. Not if we feel like it, not if they act just like we do, not if anything. We're supposed to love our neighbors.

Even the ones who don't act the "right" way.

I think it's easy - very easy indeed - to believe that nostalgia and cultural preferences reflect the Will of God. I also think that's a dangerous attitude: for folks who feel that way; as well as for those around them.

Somewhat-related posts:
In the news:


Robert Jacquart said...

My sentiments exactly. Good post man.

Brian Gill said...

Thank you, Robert Jacquart.

(And sorry it took me so long - I 'zoned' on checking comments.)

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Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.