Moses said to the people:
"If only you would heed the voice of the LORD, your God,
and keep his commandments and statutes
that are written in this book of the law,
when you return to the LORD, your God,
with all your heart and all your soul.
"For this command that I
enjoin on you today
is not too mysterious and remote for you.
It is not up in the sky, that you should say,
'Who will go up in the sky to get it for us
and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?'
Nor is it across the sea, that you should say,
'Who will cross the sea to get it for us
and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?'
No, it is something very near to you,
already in your mouths and in your hearts;
you have only to carry it out."
R. (cf. 33) Turn to
the Lord in your need, and you will live. I pray to you, O
for the time of your favor, O God!
In your great kindness answer me
with your constant help.
Answer me, O LORD, for bounteous is your kindness:
in your great mercy turn toward me. R. Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live. I am afflicted and in pain;
let your saving help, O God, protect me.
I will praise the name of God in song,
and I will glorify him with thanksgiving. R. Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live. "See, you lowly ones, and be glad;
you who seek God, may your hearts revive!
For the LORD hears the poor,
and his own who are in bonds he spurns not." R. Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live. For God will save Zion
and rebuild the cities of Judah.
The descendants of his servants shall inherit it,
and those who love his name shall inhabit it. R. Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live.
Jesus is the image of the invisible God,
the firstborn of all creation.
For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth,
the visible and the invisible,
whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers;
all things were created through him and for him.
He is before all things,
and in him all things hold together.
He is the head of the body, the church.
He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead,
that in all things he himself might be preeminent.
For in him all the fullness was pleased to dwell,
and through him to reconcile all things for him,
making peace by the blood of his cross
through him, whether those on earth or those in heaven.
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?"
"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."
Many years ago I was driving
to St. Louis for a class I was taking on scripture, when I came upon a
hitch-hiker along the road with the word Mizzou on the back of his jacket. I
donít usually pick up hitch-hikers. Iíve always thought it safer to pass them
on by. This one I didnít. I gave him a lift. It was very cold outside and
something just told me to give him a ride. I am still very cautious about
picking up strangers.
In todayís gospel reading, a
lawyer ask Jesus what he must do to have everlasting life. Jesus makes him
answer his own question by asking him what is written in the law. The lawyer
reveals the two great commandments that he knew of, aside from the ten
commandments of course. But something puzzled him. ďWho is my neighbor?Ē he
ask. Jesus then told him the story of the Good Samaritan and that answered the
manís question about who was his neighbor.
If our goal for our faith
journey is to be disciples of Jesus, for which we are called, then we must live
those two commandments. Better yet, we must know that to be a disciple of
Jesus, we must also be compassionate toward our neighbor, a love for and a
concern about our neighbor. Thatís what it takes to be a disciple of Jesus.
Itís called ďliving out the gospel message.Ē And that my friends, as you know
so very well, is not always an easy task. We donít necessarily like all of our
neighbors. And I donít just mean the person or persons who live next door to
us. The person next to us in the pew at church is also our neighbor; the
person we work with at our place of employment; the person or persons across
the world in the many different countries: Africa, South America, Canada, the
Middle East, and so on. Our neighbor is that person who is sick, who is
elderly, in prison, the person who doesnít share the same faith expression as we
do. Loving people who donít like or even those who are our enemies is not an
easy task. Also, it is a level of love that may not be so popular but is
necessary if we are to be called a follower of Christ.
Through the Body and Blood of
Jesus we are filled with food, food for the journey, our journey of faith toward
our final outcome, life eternal with God. Itís something that awaits us. We
didnít earn it. It is Godís gift to us, freely given because His son died for
all of humankind that eternal life might be restored. When we were born into
this world we did not belong to ourselves, or anyone else, nor was we ever meant
to be, except to God. We were given to our parents on loan. It was so that we
could give praise and honor to God, as we struggled to unite our sufferings with
that of Jesus, who made possible our salvation. Have you ever heard a new born
baby laugh right after he or she is born, when swatted on itís bottom? Not
likely, no, they cry. It hurts. Itís painful. Itís their first experience of
pain, and there would be more as they grew older; scraped knees, a black eye
maybe, a broken heart, and yet, we go about living a life of a suffering servant
for Christ. Itís part of how we grow in faith, but also there are many joys and
good times as well.
So very often in scripture
Jesus tells a story; each time to get us to understand our mission as his
disciple; that regardless of our lot in life, we are still called to serve God
by serving the needs of others, our neighbor. God calls us despite our own
circumstances, good or bad, as I have already stated, from the youngest to the
oldest, from the less gifted to the most gifted. Most of us are blessed with
good health. Some of us have experienced different diseases; colon cancer,
breast cancer, all kinds of cancer suffered by children, diabetes, high blood
pressure, arthritis, mental illness, heart disease, and a host of other
ailments. Sometimes the worst disease is that of pessimism or indifference, or
Perhaps the bottom line may be
that there is something wrong with all of us; that none of us are perfect, are
we? And yet we are still called to be followers and disciples of Jesus, on this
journey of life, through this imperfect world, until that day that we will see
him in Paradise.
Like the Good Samaritan, we do
care for each other, we do share, we do pray for each other, we are concerned
for each otherís needs. We rally behind needy causes. We celebrate Godís
abiding love with enthusiasm and joy. We are friendly towards each other, and
we enjoy each otherís company, whether in person or as friends on the Internet.
We do treat each other as neighbors. The moral of the story of the Good
Samaritan is not merely an ideal, or a promise, or a goal. It is the conquest
of all that separates us from knowing who we are, and who Jesus wants us to be.
We can meet the challenge, side by side, neighbor by neighbor, imperfect and
sinful, but hungry for Godís Kingdom. We are indeed graced to be able to do
so. Let us continue to spread the good news to all of those we meet, always
trying to be the Good Samaritan that Jesus calls us to be.