Prepare for Sunday Mass: Whatever does 'love your neighbor as yourself' mean?

Each week in OSV Newsweekly, Carl Olson provides a thoughtful, relevant reflection on the Mass readings for Sunday in his "Opening the Word" column. The following is just an excerpt, but you can read the entire column here.

From Carl Olson:

During my first year of college, living 1,000 miles from home, I found myself dealing with an unlikable, selfish housemate. Talking to my father on the phone one weekend, I expressed my frustrations and asked, “What should I do?” My father, a man who has never shied from confrontation, surprised me with his answer. “Pray for him,” he said. “When you really pray for someone, you cannot hate them.” I took his advice and found my perspective changing and attitude improving.

“You shall love your neighbor,” God told Moses and the people, “as yourself.” Whatever does that mean? Does it involve liking them? Not necessarily, since true love is not about passions and emotions, but about our will. True love chooses to seek the good for others, which means, ultimately, that we want others — including our enemies — to know and experience the grace and mercy of God.

The philosopher Rémi Brague, in his book “On the God of the Christians” (St. Augustine’s Press, $26), states, “God does not seek our happiness. He does not seek our unhappiness either. He seeks our good, which is to say: our sanctification. … Our good, in other words, is God himself.” God is holy, and he is also, as St. John famously wrote, love (1 Jn 4:8). “Yet, if we love one another,” John also wrote, “God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us” (1 Jn 4:12). Perfection and love go hand in hand; holiness and the gift of self to others are inseparable.

Read Olson's entire column to prepare for Sunday Mass.

Jennifer Rey is the web editor of Our Sunday Visitor Publishing.