A Rejoicing Neighbor

23 December 2021

Reflection by Bp. Elmer Belmonte

READINGS

Psalm 80 * 146, 147
2 Samuel 7:18-29
Galatians 3:1-14
Luke 1:57-66


The greatest commandment is to love God. A commandment given to Israel, then reaffirmed by Jesus as the greatest commandment, with the addition of loving y neighbor as self. Regarding the matter, there is no room for second-guessing.

Who does not want a good, caring, and loving neighbor? Am I a good neighbor? Is it easier to love God whom we don’t see, than a neighbor whom we see? It is a perennial subject which underscores the importance of a loving and caring community as opposed to modern individualistic tendency.

When her neighbors and relatives heard how the Lord had shown great mercy to her, they rejoiced with her.
Luke 1:58

Elizabeth was a barren woman, advanced in years; like Sarah, Manoah’s wife, and Hannah. Barrenness is equated to God’s displeasure and often the individual becomes an object ridicule and mockery. On the flip side, the ability to bear a child in these circumstances, especially in old age, is seen as a sign of God’s blessing and his miraculous power.

When a man of God is born, an Isaac, a Samson, a Samuel, is characterized by strangeness with something unexpected, surprising, and astounding. Elizabeth was a blessed woman for having received a miracle from God and has become a participant in the economy of salvation. It does not say that the neighbors and friends heard the joy had befallen Elizabeth, rather “that the Lord had shown great mercy to her.”

Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.
– Romans 12:15

It is a blessing to have loving, caring neighbors and relatives. Furthermore, neighbors who people who can perceive the mercy of God. When we witness God’s acts of love and mercy on people, we should not stand passive spectators but instead be filled with joy. One might say that this is simply a demonstration of human altruism, hardly so. Before one can rejoice, there must be an acknowledgement of God’s act of Mercy.

Our God is merciful and kind of which creation longs and depends on. From the words of Karl Barth, “It would be a true Christmas joy if we could give this to each other—that all may participate in it as in a gift of God.” The mystery of God’s mercy and the joy will remove Christmas sentimentality. If we know this about one another: I am led, and the others are led too, then we could begin really to rejoice with each other and enter the Holy Season.


PRAYER

Heavenly Father, grant us to obey and fulfill your commandments, that in loving You above all else, we may be wholly yours. Thank you for the blessing of friends and relatives who rejoice with us, in turn rejoice with them. May we be constantly mindful that all depend upon your mercy and everyone’s act of kindness. Through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN.


REFERENCE BOOKS

• The Great Promise: Luke 1 by: Karl Barth
• The Complete Topical Guide to the Bible by: Martin H. Manser,
• Alister E. McGrath, J.I. Packer, Donald J. Wiseman

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