by Joshua Ruoff
Do we truly love everyone as Jesus loves them?
What about when we park in the handicapped spot at Walmart just to be closer to the door? Or when we use the handicapped stall in the public restroom?
When we do these things, what are we really saying? We are telling people with disabilities that “I am better than you” or “Jesus loves me more.”
When we glare at someone with special needs at Mass, or don’t have the proper accessibility requirements in our churches, we are sending the message that individuals with disabilities are not welcome.
Jesus desires to be in relationship with all of his children.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us to look upon our neighbor (without any exception) as “another self” (1931). Yes, accessibility requirements cost money, but who are we to put a price on a relationship with Jesus? Jesus tells us in the Gospel of Matthew that whatever we do for our brothers and sisters, we do for him (Chapter 25).
In the Gospel for the Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time, we see Jesus healing the deaf man, showing us that God uses individuals with disabilities to show his divine power and providence.
So when we mistreat individuals with disabilities, we are essentially telling God, “I don’t believe you can work a miracle through this person” or “I don’t trust your divine power and providence.”
While none of us can truly know how Jesus would respond to us, the Gospel for the Twenty-fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time gives us a good blueprint. Jesus is with his disciples and for the first time explains to them that he must suffer and die in order to save humanity.
Peter is furious with Jesus and is unwilling to trust God’s divine plan. Jesus tells him “Get behind me Satan.” WOW! Jesus asks us to trust him completely in all things. When we do this, we are witnesses to others and bring them closer to Jesus and closer to heaven, fulfilling our mission as baptized and confirmed Catholics.
How are we to respond? We must pray for a heart like his. Some practical ways to love like him are to stop and think: Are my words or actions telling others that I love them as Jesus loves them? Are they a true reflection of my trust in and love for God?
For opportunities to practice loving others as Jesus does, call (913) 647-3054 or send me an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jesus, help us to love like you. Amen!