|Growing in Virtue||Live a Day for Others|
|Objective||Understand the value of loving your neighbour and how to live it out|
|Seedtime||5 minute read|
|Feedtime||1 day (small increments throughout the day )|
|Directive||Perform acts of service throughout your day – readily and lovingly without reluctance. Take 10 minutes of examination at the end of the day|
“’Teacher, which is the greatest commandment?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it. You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’”
I can’t stand washing the dishes. On the other hand, I love to have a tidy, clean house. I don’t know what it is about the dishes, but it’s just one of those household chores that I dread. It’s a constant battle with myself, and I would do anything to reduce the amount of dishes I use so that I can save time on the washing up. Every day I pray to God for a dishwasher, and I realise He has given one – me! It’s a relatively small act of service that I can do to love and serve my family.
One woman who realised this particular call to love was St. Thérèse of Lisieux. In 1888, at the age of fifteen, Thérèse Martin entered the Carmelite monastery in her home town of Lisieux, France. She pleaded boldly and earnestly to enter Carmel at such a young age, all because of her great love of Jesus. She was not famous, she did not perform great works and yet she is regarded as one of the great saints and a doctor of the Church. How did this unknown nun become so great? It was through her littleness, humility and obedience to God’s will. She strived to follow the greatest commandment, given by God, through fervent prayer and acts of service – her own little way.
In her diary, Thérèse talks about one of the nuns in the monastery who, simply put, got on her nerves. Despite this, Thérèse saw the need to love her sister in Christ just as Jesus did. She went out of her way to serve this nun totally and completely so much so that this nun believed that she was Thérèse’s favourite.
What an example of holiness this is to us! The story of St. Thérèse may not be new to us, but it is a good reminder of how we need to live and love. It was only after she had entered Carmel that she exclaims,
“At last I have found my vocation. In the heart of the Church I am to be love.”
She did not simply say that she would love, but that she would be love.
Sometimes we can get so wrapped up in our lives of where we’re going and what we’re doing, that we forget the most important commandment that God gives us. Throughout the Old Testament, God asks His people to love Him and be faithful to Him. It is repeated again and again and again. He longs for the hearts of Israel to turn to Him and love Him above all else. When Jesus gives us this commandment in the New Testament, He is fulfilling the law. From love of God flows everything else.
In my ordinary everyday life, I have been striving to follow this example, whether it be washing the dishes, or getting up early to spend some alone time with Jesus. I am a wife and mother; this is the role that I have chosen, and it would be no good if I decided to indulge my own interests over that of my family’s. As St. Teresa of Calcutta said it is a “call within a call.” It is a way of serving God, within our vocation, which nobody else can do.
There is no greater definition of love than to look at Jesus on the cross. He freely chose to sacrifice Himself for our good, for our salvation. Sometimes, I am guilty of not appreciating this enough, and I don’t think I’m the only one. Jesus knew exactly what was going to happen to Him (Jn 18:32) and He chose it anyway. He suffered a death worse than was custom at the time, all for love of us. And if I can show my love to Him and others by sacrificing my time and energy, I’m going to do it.
Of course, in the brokenness and weakness of humanity we fail constantly, but that’s the challenge. To keep striving to be like Jesus, to love as He loves in our everyday lives even when we miss the mark.
St. Thérèse realised this in a profound way. She was not perfect, but she desired above all else to love Jesus through prayer and the service of others. In the same way, we are called offer ourselves every day, to give generously not just when it is easy, but especially when it is difficult. Real love requires sacrifice.
“The greatest love you can have for your friends is to give your life for them.”
A few weeks ago, as I was praying about this subject, I realised just how much I was focused on myself. I was slipping into laziness and selfishness. So, I challenged myself to live one day completely for others. If someone needed something, I would get it. If someone asked for help, I would help. Even if no one asked, I would offer. In doing this, I thought I’d be exhausted, but instead it energised me. It gave me life! It is truly in giving that we receive.
In the same way I challenge you to live one day completely for others, to do without thinking and serve without complaining. Of course this won’t take up your whole day, but it does require you to be present to the needs of others for a day. So be intentional, and look for opportunities to serve! And if you’re like me, this won’t just be a challenge for one day but a life-long endeavour.
“The fruit of silence is prayer, the fruit of prayer is faith, the fruit of faith is love, the fruit of love is service and the fruit of service is peace.”
St Teresa of Calcutta