Last night, on the feast of St. Francis de Sales, the Vikings played the Saints for a chance at the Superbowl. The sisters of North Minneapolis delayed their evening prayer to cheer on the home team and be a part of what surely many in their neighborhood would either be celebrating or recalling with remorse the next day. As it turned out, we lost. As I watched the Saints celebrate in the same stadium that almost five years ago was home to a tragic scene after Hurricane Katrina, a sense of happiness and joy washed away my disappointment at the Vikings loss. This place, and more importantly these people that held such sadness and tragedy in their hearts in that place then, needed to be a host to such celebration now.
St. Francis de Sales talks with passion on why we should love our neighbor in the Treatise on the Love of God:
“The charity that produces acts of love for God produces, at the same time, acts of love for our neighbor….However, this is always on the understanding that we love our neighbor as being created in the image and likeness of God, shouldn’t we say, ‘Look and see how this person resembles the Creator?’ Shouldn’t we embrace him, caress him, and weep over him with love? Shouldn’t we bless him a thousand times over? And why? For the love of him?…For the love of God, who made him [neighbor] in his own image and likeness, so that he is capable of participating in his goodness, in grace and in glory….For the love of God, I say from whom he is, whose he is, by whom he is, in whom he is, for whom he is, and whom he resembles in a most intimate way. Thus, the love of God not only often commands the love of our neighbor, but it also produces this love and pours it into our hearts, as its own image and likeness.”
And so it is with heartfelt gratitude that the sisters so actively and compassionately love their neighbors near and far, and by their living example, I am further inspired to love mine. No matter if my neighbor is living in the home next to me, or in the great city of New Orleans, or on the small and devastated island of Haiti, let us pray for our neighbors and work hard on their behalves; for if our neighbor’s life is bettered, so is ours, and in doing so that we may all be enriched by the greater love of God.
Elizabeth Eilers Sullivan is a 1993 graduate of the Mendota Heights Visitation; she currently resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with her husband and three sons. She is a freelance writer who is passionate about motherhood and sharing Salesian Spirituality . We are happy to feature her here as a guest blogger from time to time.