July 14, 2013: 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time
There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test him 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.” (Luke 15:25-37)
In today’s story a scholar wants to test Jesus. He asks, “What do I have to do to get to heaven?” Jesus asks what he learned as a child. The scholar repeats the memorized answer: “Love God with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus likes that answer. But the scholar wants to be thought of as very smart, so he asks, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus answers with the famous Good Samaritan story with the hated Samaritan as the hero. Jesus loves everyone and everything God made. Every person and every living thing–mosquito, dog, or kangaroo–it doesn’t matter, large or small–all are alive and want to stay alive. God made us all, God loves us all, is in us all. “Rats and cats and elephants, the good God made them all” as an old song says.
Look around you at school or your neighborhood for someone you don’t usually talk to; smile at them, maybe try to talk to them. If a disabled person, an immigrant, a homeless kid was being bullied, would you stick up for them? When a mosquito bugs you, think: “God made both of us.” Talk to God and listen.