Sunday, July 14, 2013

Do you know your next door neighbor?

It is not enough for us to say: "I love God," but I also have to love my neighbor.
St. John says that you are a liar if you say you love God
and you don't love your neighbor.
How can you love God whom you do not see,
if you do not love your neighbor whom you see, whom you touch, with whom you live? – Mother Teresa

Gospel Text: (LK 10:25-37)
There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test him and said,
“Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus said to him, “What is written in the law?
How do you read it?”
He said in reply,
“You shall love the Lord, your God,
with all your heart,
with all your being,
with all your strength,
and with all your mind,
and your neighbor as yourself.”
He replied to him, “You have answered correctly;
do this and you will live.”

But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus,
“And who is my neighbor?”
Jesus replied,
“A man fell victim to robbers
as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho.
They stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half-dead.
A priest happened to be going down that road,
but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side.
Likewise a Levite came to the place,
and when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side.
But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him
was moved with compassion at the sight.
He approached the victim,
poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them.
Then he lifted him up on his own animal,
took him to an inn, and cared for him.
The next day he took out two silver coins
and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction,
‘Take care of him.
If you spend more than what I have given you,
I shall repay you on my way back.’
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.”

How do we know whether we love our neighbors? We love them if we are willing to spend time and energy on them. We love our neighbors if we are willing to give hands-on, sacrificial service to them, as did the Good Samaritan (Lk 10:33-35). We love our neighbors if we are willing to lay down our lives for them (1 Jn 3:16), even if they are our enemies (see Rm 5:8). We love our neighbors if we love as the crucified Jesus loves. Consequently, we love our neighbors by grace, not by any power of our own.

Is there any person, group, or class of people you won't get near? Do you stay away from the poor, uneducated, crippled, retarded, aged, criminals, unrepentant, or those of a different race or religion? These may be your "wounded victims," your chance to be a good Samaritan.

Jesus may be saying that as often as you neglected to get near these people, you neglected to get near Him (Mt 25:45).

We need to be like the Good Samaritan. 

We are going to find Jesus by reaching out and immersing ourselves into the wounded.  Moreover, we are all wounded, because we are all part of a world that has forgotten how to love. 

Jesus tells us the same thing he told the lawyer today in the gospel, “Go and do likewise” (Luke 10:37). It’s that simple. It’s that clear.

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