15TH SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME
In our Gospel reading for this Sunday Jesus is asked the question ‘who is my neighbour?” Given the migrant crisis in Europe along with the Brexit vote in UK this is a very timely question for us to ask ourselves, who do we say our neighbours are. This is an easy question to ask but there are many complex answers. When I was a youngster your neighbours were the people that lived next door to you or those who lived in your street or road they were the families you would go to when you ran out of milk or sugar to borrow some or to share the news about the people and happenings in the area. The Gospel story tells us about the Good Samaritan it is a story that all of us are familiar with. It was the Samaritan who stopped with the man who was lying on the side of the road it was the Samaritan who was moved with compassion to help him. The Priest and the Levite walked on and passed by on the other side of the road because they felt that it was beneath their dignity to help the man. What does our Gospel story tell us about love for one’s neighbour today?
First, it tells us that we must be willing to help even if others brought trouble on themselves for whatever reason. Second, our concern to help others in need must be practical. And lastly, our love and mercy towards others must be as wide and as inclusive as God’s love and mercy towards us. We remember that God excludes no one from his care. So we must be ready to do good to others just as God is good to us remembering that his love and mercy are without end. Jesus not only taught God’s way of love, he also showed how far God was willing to go to share in our suffering and to restore our wholeness in life and happiness. Jesus overcame sin, suffering, and death through his victory on the cross on Good Friday. True compassion not only identifies and empathizes with the one who is in pain, it also takes that pain on in order to bring freedom and restoration. Our world is moving towards ways of acting that hurt more people time after time. We are members of this world so we cannot pretend that it’s got nothing to do with us for it has everything to do with us.
In these days with turmoil and confusion in so many places we need to reach out in order to show friendship to our neighbours and those who have come to be our neighbours from other places. We should be telling them that they are valuable to us in our time and place and we will not tolerate those who tell them go away home. At the end of the Gospel Jesus asked the Lawyer Which of these three, do you think, proved himself a neighbor to the man who fell into the brigands‘ hands?’ ‘The one who took pity on him’ he replied. Jesus said to him, ‘Go, and do the same yourself.’ There it is in the Gospel we are called today in this place wherever we are to go and do the same as the good Samaritan to show compassion and mercy not to walk on by like the Levite and the priest.