October 6, 2008
Monday of the Twenty-Seventh Week in Ordinary Time
Luke 10: 25-37
There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test Jesus 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."
Introductory Prayer: Lord, today you challenge me to expand my heart. I believe that you can do this for me. By uniting my heart to yours, my heart will grow. I trust in your fidelity. You love me, although I am a sinner. There is nothing you will not do for me. Today, I desire to love more by becoming more compassionate, by feeling for and assisting anyone who needs me. I want to expand what I consider to be my “neighbor.”
Petition: Lord, make my heart capable of overcoming the obstacles to love.
1. In a Nutshell
Not all scholars are capable of being as concise as the one who comes to Jesus and summarizes all that is necessary for salvation in a single sentence: love of God and love of neighbor – that’s it. Actually, there is something that needs to be added. This love must not be partial, but total: love for God with all one’s heart, mind and strength and love for neighbor equal to our self-love. I must increase my love by wanting to love better and by asking God to give me a greater capacity to love.
2. Looking for an “Out”
The scholar becomes afraid of the demands of the summary that he has just formulated. He looks for an “out,” a way of making it seem less demanding. He wants Jesus to tell him that his “neighbor” is just one of his own friends, family or countrymen. Jesus, however, tells a story of a man, a foreigner from an enemy people (a Samaritan), who finds a wounded Jewish man and cares for him as a neighbor. This stands in contrast to the behavior of a priest and a Levite (a religious man) who, like the wounded man, are also Jews. If I am too narrow in my consideration of who is my neighbor, I will not treat well those whom I should accept as my neighbor.
3. Limitless Compassion
Compassion means “to suffer with” someone. The Samaritan sees the half-dead man and feels his pain – not in a trite way, saying, “I feel your pain,” but in a profound way, helping the man as he himself would like to be helped in the same situation. He shows a series of caring details: He takes time with the wounded man, applies relief to his wounds, gives him his donkey’s back to ride on, makes sure that he makes it to a safe haven where the man will be taken care of, and covers the expenses. I must stop to see the needs of those around me, even when a person is not in my intimate circle of family and friends. I must let my heart be moved to action, addressing the needs of others to the best of my ability, not turning a blind eye to them.
Conversation with Christ: Jesus, so often I am like the priest and the Levite. I see people in need, but I am in a hurry, or I think that someone else will help them. I know that I need to see all others as my “neighbors,” even those who are suffering from war, famine and poverty on the other side of the world. If I do not consider them my “neighbors” and help them with my prayers and actions, who will? I want to be as attentive as I can to the needs of others, treating them as I would like to be treated.
Resolution: At work, in school or at home, I will strive to center my attention on people – on my “neighbors” – and not just on things I have to do. I will address a concrete need of another person today.
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