Is there someone in your life that is hard for you to love? In this episode, Dr. Sri explains the call of every person to love their neighbor despite how we feel about them. Using examples from the saints, Dr. Sri encourages us to rise above our feelings and choose to love.
Snippet from the Show
A real sign of conversion is in how we choose to love our neighbor.
St. Francis of Assisi
Prior to his conversion, St. Francis of Assisi had intense disdain for lepers. He was repulsed by them and did all he could to avoid encountering any person with leprosy. However, through his conversion, St. Francis of Assisi overcame this disdain. He put aside for the sake of something greater: love. Once, while journey, he came upon a leper. Instead of turning the other way, St. Francis ran to him and embraced him. He gave the leper his clothes and money. St. Francis also worked in a hostel for lepers. He earned his keep by caring for the lepers. In doing this work, St. Francis noted in his writings that so much of his own soul was revealed to him.
A Real Sign of Conversion
What is a sign of real conversion? Many people may say that it is praying more often or reading Scripture or attending faith gatherings or Mass often. These are all good and important, but perhaps one of the truest signs of conversion is how someone loves their neighbor. This neighbor might be a spouse, a child, a co-worker, or someone that we really don’t like. How we choose to love each person is a good representation of our relationship with Christ. It is in our neighbor that we will encounter Christ.
St. Therese and Rising Above Feelings
St. Therese of Lisieux writes in her autobiography about not liking some of the sisters she lived with in the convent. However, she did not allow her feelings to dictate how she treated these women nor did she allow it to keep herself from loving them. She wrote, “Charity consists in bearing with the faults of others.”
What about authenticity?
But isn’t it inauthentic to be kind to someone and show them love even when you don’t like them? Authenticity does not equate to acting on our feelings or being true to what we feel. Love is an act of the will. At times, we must die to ourselves and rise above our feelings in order to love.
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Dr. Edward Sri is a theologian, well-known Catholic speaker, and author of several best-selling books. His work with Ascension includes study programs such as A Biblical Walk Through the Mass, No Greater Love: A Biblical Walk Through Christ’s Passion and Mary: A Biblical Walk with the Blessed Mother. Several of Dr. Sri’s programs were filmed on-site in the Holy Land, and feature immersive video explorations of the sacred sites where Jesus, Mary, and the Apostles lived and died.
Dr. Sri is the host of the acclaimed Ascension podcast All Things Catholic with Dr. Edward Sri. Together with Curtis Martin, Dr. Sri is a founding leader of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS), of which he serves as senior vice president of Apostolic Outreach.
Dr. Sri lives with his wife Beth and their children in Colorado.