Monday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time, October 5
May We Always See in One Another Jesus Christ Himself, and May Each Person See Him in Us, by the Way We Open Our Hearts and by the Way We Joyfully Share the Love of Christ with All Whom Our Lives Touch.
“But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’”
There are few parables in the Gospels more familiar than the one we call “The Good Samaritan”. The dialogue that leads to the parable is important because it emphasizes that eternal life is not simply a matter of each of us loving God, but is also a matter of the love we have for one another.
This story also shows how we, as human beings, with our many imperfections, try to find ways to define who our neighbor is, in order to satisfy our prejudices and our inconveniences.
The “scholar of the law”, as the Gospel describes the one questioning Jesus, could not answer with a straight-forward response Jesus’ question, “Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?”
Because of his prejudice, this particular scholar, probably a scribe, could not speak the word “Samaritan”, for Samaritans and Jews were bitterly opposed to one another due to various ethnic and religious reasons. He replied, rather, “The one who treated him with mercy.”
And how did Jesus respond? “Go and do likewise.”
The question then begs to be asked – “Who is our neighbor?” The answer – “Everyone!” For people who suffer from prejudice – whether the prejudicial thinking is based upon racial bigotry or religious or ethnic intolerance – this concept of accepting everyone as our neighbor is a very difficult pill to swallow.
And yet, it is for this very reason that our Lord gives us this parable. In essence, our Lord is teaching us that for those of us who call ourselves Christian, the word “Christian” itself does not mean that we are guaranteed eternal life!
If we knowingly turn our backs on those who are in most need, are we acting as Christ would act? Did not Christ take upon Himself our humanity so that He might teach us about the mind and the will of God in our daily lives? And did not Christ reach out to the sick and the infirm, the sinful and the leprous, in order to teach us the true meaning of charity and selfless love, the true meaning of compassion and mercy?
Sadly, we live in a society which prides itself on self-centeredness and ego, a culture which prides itself on selfishness and personal gain – oftentimes at the expense of the less fortunate, oftentimes at the expense of someone else becoming hurt! And, regrettably, this overt sense of greed and self-interest is not only the cultural norm, but is also a popular way of thinking, widely accepted by many peoples and ethnicities throughout the world.
And for all who embrace bigotry and hatred towards those whose ideologies and religions are different from their own, their sin is an even greater evil, for their actions not only distort the very idea of Divine Love and Mercy itself, but also cause the deaths of innocent lives through a perverted sense of God’s will and manmade justice.
With all that we see occurring in the world, financially, socio-politically and ideologically, and all the harm that is being done, it gives witness to the fact that many are following a different gospel than the one we have been taught. Theirs is a gospel which perverts Divine Truth and seduces its followers!
We even find this in our First Reading today. Those to whom Paul had evangelized earlier had begun to follow a new gospel, preached to them by those who were determined to subvert and undermine the work the Holy Spirit had effected through Paul. And theirs was a teaching which seduced its listeners into believing a different truth from the one which Paul had taught.
Being open to God’s Truth, being open to and accepting of all that our Lord taught us is the first step we take towards our own salvation.
But when we close our hearts and allow the prince of this world, who is Satan, to seduce and lead us astray, feeding us with distortions and lies, then we fail to live the life to which God calls each one of us – a life of compassion and understanding, a life of selflessness for the good of each other.
When selfishness and conceit, when ego and pride, when prejudicial bigotry and hatred become the motivating factors behind our way of life, then it becomes easier for us to take that next step and mistreat another fellow human being. Or when such thinking causes us to take no action in caring for the needs of the less fortunate, especially when they are suffering due to society’s ignorance, then we, as a society, have failed. We have forgotten what it truly means to be Christ-like and loving towards one another.
Our Lord is saying to each one of us today, “Go and do likewise.” – In other words, “Become My voice in today’s world; show to each other the compassion and love, the mercy and understanding that I would show.” –
“I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”
In the past, while ministering to the homeless – those who are marginalized in our society, those who have been labeled as “invisible”, those who suffer from a lack of food and clothing, from the lack of shelter and medical care – the one undeniable quality which I observed, the singular constant which never changes, is that every human being is deserving of love; every human being is a child of God and deserving of dignity and respect, no matter what their state in life may be.
If we are to respond to Jesus’ first Commandment, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength”, and if we truly call ourselves Christian, then how can we not respond to the other, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” ?
The question then begs to be asked, “Why is it so difficult for people to love their neighbor? Why is it so difficult for some to find peace in their hearts and to share the joy of that peace with those who are different, with those who offend us for whatever reason, or those who are less fortunate?”
With God as our Father, we are all brothers and sisters to one another, that each and every one of us, no matter what our race, creed, skin color, political or religious persuasion may be – in the eyes of the Almighty and Merciful God, we are each other’s neighbor – worthy of love, worthy of mercy, worthy of compassion and understanding!
May you and I always see in one another Jesus Christ Himself, and may each person see Him in us – by the way we open our hearts and by the way we joyfully share the love of Christ with all whom our lives may touch. †
Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.
Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.
Scripture for the Day
- “Jesus replied, ‘The first is this: ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.’” (Mark 12:29-31)
- “But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’” (Luke 10:29)
- “‘Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?’ He answered, ‘The one who treated him with mercy.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.’” (Luke 10:36-37)
- “Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love.” (1 John 4:7-8)
- “The commandments…are summed up in this saying, namely, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence, love is the fulfillment of the law.” (Romans 13:9-10)
- “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. This is the commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.” (1 John 4:20-21)
- “I am amazed that you are so quickly forsaking the one who called you by the grace of Christ for a different gospel (not that there is another). But there are some who are disturbing you and wish to pervert the gospel of Christ.” (Galatians 1:6-7)
- “The works of his hands are true and just, reliable all his decrees, established forever and ever, to be observed with truth and equity.” (Psalm 111:7-8)
- “Now I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel preached by me is not of human origin. For I did not receive it from a human being, nor was I taught it, but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ.” (Galatians 1:11-12)
- “I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.” (John 13:15)
Prayer for the Day
“Lord, make me an instrument of Your Love.
May I see each circumstance in my life
as an opportunity to grow in Your Mercy.
May I see my environment
as a place to grow in Your Peace.
“When I am tempted to become impatient,
help me to be patient.
“When I am tempted to become unkind,
help me to be kind.
“When I am tempted to become jealous,
help me to be tolerant.
“When I am tempted to become boastful or proud,
help me give You the glory.
“When I am tempted to be rude or selfish,
give me the gift of gentleness.
“When I am tempted to take offense,
help me to let go.
“When I am tempted to become angry with someone,
give me the gift of forgiveness.
“When I am tempted to become resentful,
give me Your power to love.
“All gifts and all charisms come from You.Anonymous
All will one day come to an end,
with one important exception, the gift of love!
Help me to always love others as You love me. Amen.”