love thy neighbor

Today, Dave and I were out with the boys.  We were driving in the car down a narrow road, made more narrow by all of the piles of snow.  In front of us was a group of 7 boys.  They were probably about Drew’s age, maybe in middle school, although  two of them looked much younger, maybe eight or nine years old.  They were walking in a line across the road.  As we pulled behind them, expecting them to move, two of the boys stepped aside and I waved and mouthed them a thank you.  The other five looked back and deliberately kept walking slowly down the street not allowing us to pass.   The littlest one kept looking back at us and then up at the older boys, as if looking for their approval.  It made me sad to see that these young boys were seeking acceptance from the boys who were obviously being disrespectful rather than from the two who made the obvious right choice.

When we finally got to the end of the street and could pass them, I looked at them and just shook my head.  Dave, opened his window and yelled out, “are you proud of yourselves?” They yelled back, “hey, how ya doin’?  I was glad my kids were there to witness it because it led to a conversation about respect.  We are so fortunate to have raised boys who are respectful – at least from what we have seen.  We can only hope and trust that they know right from wrong and demonstrate these actions all of the time.

It was very fitting that we went to mass tonight. The intention for tonight’s mass was for my mom.  It was a perfect mass after what happened today, but also a perfect mass for her because tonight’s readings were all about loving your neighbor as yourself.   There are many readings that make me cringe when I go to church and make me question going, but these are the ones that I love to hear and I hope that my boys are listening to and taking in.  I don’t often get religious in my blog, but tonight seemed very fitting. The first reading was from Leviticus and this is a part of it:

“You shall not bear hatred for your brother or sister in your heart.
Though you may have to reprove your fellow citizen,
do not incur sin because of him.
Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against any of your people.
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

And the gospel, from Mark was this:

Jesus said to his disciples:
“You have heard that it was said,
An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.
But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil.
When someone strikes you on your right cheek,
turn the other one as well.
If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic,
hand over your cloak as well.
Should anyone press you into service for one mile,
go for two miles.
Give to the one who asks of you,
and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.

“You have heard that it was said,
You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.
But I say to you, love your enemies
and pray for those who persecute you,
that you may be children of your heavenly Father,
for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good,
and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.
For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have?
Do not the tax collectors do the same?
And if you greet your brothers only,
what is unusual about that?
Do not the pagans do the same?
So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

So fitting.  Not just because of what we witnessed ourselves today, but because my mom never held a grudge.  She saw the good in everyone and made sure we knew it.  I was angry about those boys for a good part of the afternoon, but I was also very sad.  Sad because of the look I kept seeing that little boy giving the older ones.  I wanted so badly to reach out and ask him what he was doing!!  I could actually see him struggling with the choice of moving aside or following them. I wished that I could have let him know that those first two boys who moved out of the way immediately were the ones who they should be emulating but unfortunately he chose wrong.

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