Deuteronomy 30:10-14, Psalm 13, Colossians 1:15-20, and Luke 10:25-37
“Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?’ He said, ‘The one who showed mercy on him.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:36-37)
Last Sunday, we saw how Jesus sent out the seventy-two on a mission to evangelize giving them very strict rules and they returned full of joy. Jesus told them to rejoice not because they conquered demons but because their names were written in heaven. We learned that each of us is called to be an evangelizer in our own little ways, to preach not just with words but with our very lives.
Today, Jesus gives us a practical example of our calling as Christians in the story of the Good Samaritan who was neither a priest nor a Levite. One may wonder, why did the priest and the Levite ignore this man they met on the way? Again, what motivated the Good Samaritan to help even when it was a known fact that Jews had no business with Samaritans? These questions bring us to our lessons for today.
1. Charity is the Short-Cut to Heaven.
In today’s Gospel passage, a lawyer asked Jesus a very fundamental question: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” In other words, what is the most important thing required of me as a child of God? Or to put it in another way, what must I do to gain heaven? It is interesting to note that, unlike Nicodemus who had come to Jesus by night, the lawyer asked Jesus in public with the intention of showing off his personal qualification for eternal life. The lawyer was hoping that in his response, Jesus would mention those things with which he already prides himself.
To the lawyer’s surprise, Jesus simply gave a candid summary of the entire Ten Commandments: “to love God with all our heart, our soul, our strength, our mind and to love our neighbor as ourselves.” Even in our day and time, this response of Jesus is still quite shocking given its basic simplicity. Note that Jesus did not mention going to Church, praying long prayers, wearing long robes, fasting three times a week, and so on. In fact, not even the faithful payment of our tithe is absolutely necessary.
2. Who is my Neighbour?
As Luke tells us, the lawyer eager to let those around him know how qualified he was for heaven, asked another fundamental question: “Who is my neighbor?” That was when Jesus gave the story of the Good Samaritan. A man was attacked by robbers and left for dead, a priest passed by without helping, and a Levite also passed by but a Samaritan who would normally not have anything to do with a Jew was the one who stopped to help.
At the end of the day, the lawyer realized he was not as qualified as he thought. The story of the Good Samaritan teaches us that the neighbors God wants us to love are not those who are close to us but those that we often consider enemies. Our neighbors are not members of our family or community but strangers who would never be able to repay us for our good deeds.
While attaining heaven is as easy as loving God and our neighbor, the story of the Good Samaritan teaches us that the only difficulty we would encounter in entering heaven is the difficulty of showing kindness to our enemies or those far from us.
3. Go and Do Likewise.
Jesus did not just tell this story for the sake of entertainment, he passed on a very strong message by ending with the phrase: “Go and do Likewise.” This final statement of Jesus was his real answer to the question: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” It is not enough that we simply hear God’s word. If we fail to do likewise, our hearing is in vain. Most of us like to think of ourselves as perfect candidates for heaven, but I ask you today: When was the last time, you showed kindness to a complete stranger?
The key to helping people is seeing Christ in everyone. As St. Paul teaches us in our second reading today, “all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him, all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:16-17). Help others not because they deserve it but because of Christ whom you see in them. Remember that song: “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers; that you do unto me. When I was hungry, you gave me food to eat. When I was thirsty, you gave me a drink. When I was sick or in prison, you came to visit me… now enter into the home of my father.”
4. No Excuses for Kindness to the Needy
Whatever may have caused the priest and the Levite to pass this man by, Jesus did not tell us but Jesus only mentioned that they failed to help the man. When it comes to helping the needy, no excuse is valid. Think of this, that person you see in need of your help today may just be your last chance. He or she may have been sent your way to test you. Do not keep on till tomorrow what you can do today.
One thing that tends to prevent us from helping others is bitterness. You may have been hurt in the past, perhaps in your attempt to be kind to others, they repaid your good with evil, and so on. Remember, that person may just be you and you too would expect someone to help you.
As Moses tells us in our first reading, we don’t need somebody to go to heaven to bring down God’s commandments, they are right in our hearts. Listen to your heart. Follow your conscience. Help, don’t hinder. Go and do like the Samaritan.
Let us pray: Almighty ever-living God, grant me the grace to replicate your mercy and kindness to everyone I meet. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C. Bible Study: Deuteronomy 30:10-14, Psalm 13, Colossians 1:15-20, and Luke 10:25-37).
© Rev. Fr. Evaristus Abu