.- One of the great commandments given by Jesus was âLove your neighbor.â
However, as Redemptorist Father Vic Karls told St. Alphonsus parishioners during a Feb. 6 parish mission talk, thatâs not always an easy commandment to follow.
But, Father Karls added, âThe Lord God gave us that great commandment and he taught us how to put that into practice in our life.â
Father Karls outlined three ways, prescribed by Jesus that will make it easier to follow this commandment
Mindful that people donât always make it easy to love them, Father Karls said that, just as Jesus made an excuse for the people who put him to death â âFather forgive them for they know what they are doingâ â human beings should also make excuses for their neighbor when he or she is being difficult to love.
âMany times, they donât want to hurt you. They donât mean to hurt you. It just slips out. They simply donât know,â he said.
Father Karls said it is also important to pray for your neighbor and to perform good works for that person.
âBut you know what I hear so often? I hear people say that âthey are the ones that did the mean thing. They are the ones who have to come and apologize,ââ Father Karls said.
âJesus said something about that. He said, look, if you want peace in your life, itâs got to start some place. You can spend an entire lifetime looking out and saying, âItâs their fault.â And your relationship is going to be strained for your entire life. Jesus said, if you want to live in peace, itâs got to start somewhere. Itâs got to start right here. Youâve got to be the one. I donât care if it was their fault. I donât care if it wasnât anybodyâs fault. If you want to live in peace, youâre the one whoâs going to have to start.â
To drive home his point, Father Karls led the congregation in singing Let There Be Peace on Earth,â the first line of which reads, âLet there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.â
Sometimes, Father Karls said, loving oneâs neighbor requires what he terms âtough love.â
âSometimes in following what our Lord God told us to do â the steps to help us love our neighbor â sickness and abuse comes into the picture and we have to go into something called tough love,â he said.
âThat is simply to stop helping other people in their abusive behavior. Tough love, real love is to do your best to get them to some professional help. They are addicted. They donât have the ability to do it themselves. People who love them have the ability to help them.â
The mission, which featured morning and evening sessions, ran Feb.7 through Feb.10.
Printed with permission from the Gulf Pine Catholic, newspaper for the Diocese of Biloxi, Miss.