Love Your Neighbor


We continue our series with Part V, Chapter 6, “Examination of the Soul’s Condition as Regards Our Neighbour, from An Introduction to the Devout Life. Here Saint Francis continues our examination by considering our relationship with our neighbor.

Husband and wife are bound to love one another with a tender, abiding, restful love, and this tie stands foremost by God’s order and Will. And I say the same with respect to children and all near relations, as also friends in their respective degrees. But, generally speaking, how is it with you as concerning your neighbour? Do you love him cordially, and for God’s Sake? In order to answer this fairly, you must call to mind sundry disagreeable, annoying people, for it is in such cases that we really practise the Love of God with respect to our neighbours, and still more towards them that do us wrong, either by word or deed. Examine whether your heart is thoroughly clear as regards all such, and whether it costs you a great effort to love them. Are you quick to speak ill of your neighbours, especially of such as do not love you? Do you act unkindly in any way, directly or indirectly, towards them? A very little honest self-dealing will enable you to find this out.


Questions to ponder:

  1. St. Paul wrote in Philippians 2:3: “Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves.” This advice immediately precedes the famous “self-emptying” passage describing Christ’s great humility and self-giving. You could almost say that this is the heart of the Gospel message. Why do you think it is so important for us to live by this? What would happen if all people regarded each other as more important than themselves?
  2. Continuing from question 1: Where in your life are you not practicing this type of humillty and self-emptying?
  3. It seems like a simple and straightforward idea that we should love our neighbor. This teaching is so common to our ears. However, why do you think this teaching is so radical? Why did Jesus make a point of emphasizing it if it might seem so obvious?

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