To all our “beloved” of St. Philip Neri Parish,

Greetings and Blessings to you and your family and friends, and summer visitors.

 

May the Lord bless you and keep you.

May the Lord let his face shine upon you, and you family.

May the Lord look on you and fill you with his Peace.

Who is “my neighbour”… looking up from the ditch?

There are several characters described in the parable / story of the “Good Samaritan”.  The context of the story is when a lawyer (a learned person, steeped in knowledge and “the law”) wants to test Jesus.  He first asks, “What do I have to do to get to heaven, to inherit eternal life?”  Already knowing the answer to his question, he replies, “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.”  But to push the question, he asks, “But who is my neighbor?”

Jesus answers his question with a story, a story to challenge the lawyer – and all of us – to identify with one or more of the characters in the story.

However, to put this scenario into a wider context, allow me to explain Jesus’ audience.  Jesus is speaking primarily to a group of peasant Galileans.  They are simple folks, of little consequence to the domineering and cruel and oppressive Romans.  The Romans know the art of violence and brutality, blood and beatings.  Jesus’ audience know what it means to be oppressed and robbed of dignity and freedom.  Jesus himself knew the oppression of his people.

However, as the story unfolds, which character becomes the focus of this audience? – not the robbers or the priest and the Levite; they identify with the man “in the ditch”, beaten and bloody, left to die.

NOTE: as Jesus tells the story, he doesn’t describe in detail the man in the ditch.  We don’t know whether he is a Jew, or a foreigner … only a human being.  However, imagining him to be a Jew (simply travelling the road of life – from Jerusalem to Jericho), when the man in the ditch opens his eyes to see who is helping him, to his horror and dismay, it’s the enemy – a person despised and rejected and excluded by his people.  Yet, here is someone who stops to help him, with no regard to his own time and expense and concern.  So when Jesus tells the lawyer to “go and do likewise”, he is challenging all of us to see everyone in need as a human being – regardless of social status, nationality, gender or social importance!

Jesus is also the “Good Samaritan” who knows our human condition, our pains and struggles, betrayals, and condemnations, put to death at the whims of the powerful and the cruel.

That’s why we continually pray that God is Good … all the time! The Father’s gift of Resurrection is also the promise to all of us. And the many graces of God in our daily life – our road from Jerusalem to Jericho – empowers us to live through the experiences in which we too are dehumanized and beaten.

As we reflect on our spiritual journey, as we mature in our relationship with God and one another, we come to realize that when we criticize and judge and condemn others, we come to discover that what we judge in others is often characteristic of our own human condition, our weaknesses and failures.

HOWEVER, a further spiritual insight (and gift) is that when we embrace our own brokenness and failures, we are more open and willing to reach out to others “looking up from the ditch”, broken and beaten.  Like the Samaritan we can respond with compassion and concern … just because we can, just because it is the right thing to do!

As we “touch the hem” of our Lord and God, we are empowered by the Spirit to be an agent of healing and genuine love.  When we are the one “looking up from the ditch”, we can relate – and respond – to others beaten and bloody on the road of life.  Then we too can hear Jesus say to us, “Go and do likewise”.  Then in our faith response, we can reflect the power and love of God to others; we too then become “Good Samaritans”.

SO … “Who is my Neighbor?” – anyone and anything that appears on the path of my life.  It becomes God’s opportunity to challenge me to be the Good Samaritan … to make a difference … to be the difference … to create a Kingdom Moment.

May we continue to pray with and for one another:

Where you go, go with God.  Whenever you go, go make a difference.

 

Praise be Jesus Christ… and Mary Immaculate

St. Philip Neri… pray for us

St. Eugene de Mazenod … pray for us

St. Kateri Tekakwitha … pray for us

 

Fr. Mike