The first reading, taken from Deuteronomy, reminds us that God not only gives us His Commandments in Holy Scriptures, but that they are also written in our hearts so that we may obey them and inherit eternal life with God.
In the second reading, St. Paul reminds the Colossians, and us, that just as Christ Jesus is the “visible image of the invisible God,” so our neighbors are the visible image of Christ living in our midst.
In today’s Gospel, a scribe asks Jesus a very basic religious question: “What should I do to inherit eternal life?” In answer to the question, Jesus directs the scribe’s attention to the Sacred Scriptures. The Scriptural answer is, “love God and express it by loving your neighbor.” However, to the scribe the word “neighbor” means another scribe or Pharisee – never a Samaritan or a Gentile. Hence, the scribe insists on clarification of the word “neighbor.” So, Jesus tells him the parable of the Good Samaritan. The parable clearly indicates that a “neighbor” is anyone who needs help. Thus, the correct approach is not to ask, “Who is my neighbor?” but rather to ask, “Am I a good neighbor to others?” Jesus, the Heavenly Good Samaritan, gives us a final commandment during the Last Supper, “Love one another as I have loved you,” because the invisible God dwells in every human being.
1) Let us remember that the road from Jerusalem to Jericho passes right through our home, parish, school and workplace. We may find our spouse, children or parents lying “wounded” by bitter words or scathing criticism or by other more blatant forms of verbal, emotional or physical abuse. Hence, Jesus invites us to show our love to others, in our own home, in school, in the workplace, and in the neighborhood, as the Good Samaritan did.
2) Let us check to see if we are good neighbors. We become good neighbors when we are people of generosity, kindness, and mercy toward all who are suffering. Our sincere smile, a cheery greeting, an encouraging word of appreciation, a heartfelt “thank you” can all work wonders for a suffering soul.
3) Let us allow the “Good Samaritans” to touch our lives. Let us be willing to touch, or be touched by, persons we have once despised. For some of us, it may be persons of another color or race; for others, it may mean persons of a different political persuasion. Let us pray that the Spirit of the Living God may melt us, mold us and use us, so that there will no longer be even one person who is untouchable or outside the boundaries of compassion.
4) Let us accept the invitation to be loving and merciful to our enemies. This means people we hate, as well as those who hate us. It is an invitation for people of all times to love their enemies--to love those they have previously hated.
Read our Summer Newsletter
In today’s first reading, Moses explains that discipleship and obedience to God’s commandments are the most natural behaviors for us — “it is already in your mouths and in your hearts; you only have to carry it out.” In the gospel, Jesus uses a parable to drive this point home when he is questioned by “a scholar of the law.” The young scholar clearly understands the law as it is written, but questions Jesus on who, exactly, his neighbor is. After listening to the parable, the scholar has no problem understanding that a neighborly person is one who shows love. In fact, the answer was already in his heart, he simply needs to carry it out, as Moses said! This week, reflect on the reading from Deuteronomy. Discipleship is not too mysterious and remote for you. It is not out of reach, up in the sky our across the sea. It is already in your heart, and has been since your baptism. You only have to carry it out.