As cafeteria Catholics pick and choose which doctrines to believe, and which moral rules to follow, most, if not all Catholic's, and non-Catholic Christians, pick and choose which neighbors to Love, as they Love themselves. The great commandment of Jesus, repeating the great commandment in the Book of Leviticus, 'love your neighbor as you love yourself,' has become just another item on the lukewarm cafeteria menu.
Let me repeat...even those who aren't cafeteria Catholics/Christians, those who believe in all the doctrines, and try their best to follow all the moral teachings of the Church, even they (us) make the mistake of picking and choosing which neighbor to Love.
The Holy Spirit of God's Love, however, is ready to ignite our hearts in the fire of Love, heating our lukewarmness into the charity of the Crucified One, ready to make Lenten sacrifices out of admiration, and adoration, of the Merciful, Prodigal Father.
"Be holy, for I, the LORD, your God, am holy...You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Leviticus 19:1-2, 11-18
These words are holy words.
The beauty of the Catholic liturgy, and the reading of Sacred Scripture, is that the words have a holy meaning, an unchangeable character in the Holy Spirit which inspires the hearer to become like the words heard. The listener can choose to ignore them, but the words of Scripture remain true. As many times as we hear this reading, and still choose to pick only certain neighbors to love, the message remains the same.
God's Unconditionally Loving Will never changes--but our's must!
"Let the words of my mouth and the thought of my heart find favor before you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer." Psalm 19:8-10, 15
God desires our holiness every moment of our lives, even when we sleep. Notwithstanding our human imperfection in our fallen nature due to original sin, we need a training period, a season, a time period where we are allowed to 'practice' what we preach, and dwell on our inner spiritual selves, not in a selfish way, but in an honest reflection on who we are and what we lack. Lent is a time for honesty. Repentance is a healthy result of this self-examination. Conversion, or a rededication of our lives to Jesus, is the goal.
Lent is meant for a total recommitment of the heart to the One who saves us from His Cross.
"‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’" Matthew 25:31-46
Please don't start a neighborly-charity-outreach by looking for a neighbor from an exotic country to save through a generous mailed in donation--though this should be part of our charitable activity. Start by examining how we treat the person nearest to us...right now!
It's amazing how a lack of charity, and how unrecognized this uncharitableness, exists right under our nose.
This is the neighbor we must love first.
Now is the time to begin.
Jesus would have it no other Way!