BY: Fr. Augustine Ikechukwu Opara!




DEUTERONOMY 30:10-14, COLOSSIANS 1:15-20, LUKE 10:25-37

Today we celebrate the God who is close to us both in His Word and in our neighbor. As the image of the unseen God, and as the Good Samaritan, Christ is close to us in all circumstances of life. So, the church urges us to acknowledge the presence of God both in his Word, and in our neighbor. There are many parables that are unique to the Gospel of Luke. The parable of the prodigal son (Lk 15:11-32), the parable of Lazarus and the rich man (Lk 16:19-31), the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican (Lk 18:10-14) including the parable of the Good Samaritan we read in the gospel. To get the real message of Jesus in these unique parables of Luke we need to pay attention to the final twists to the stories.

The first reading today is a beautiful compliment to this parable. Through Moses, God told Israel what they had been missing. They only need to carry out the commandments and everything will be in order. In the end, God said, “It is something very near to you, already in your mouths and in your hearts; you only have to carry it out.” The commands are easy to understand and very accessible. Unfortunately, the Israelites, and we can say even the people of succeeding generations up to our present time are just too hard-headed. Thus, the constant and repetitive sins through disobedience.

Fr. Nguyen tells an anecdote about a little girl who came to her father complaining that some local boys had made traps to catch birds and she was not happy about it. Her father asked, “So what did you do about it?” she said, “I prayed that the traps would not work.” The father asked, “And what else?” “And I prayed that the birds wouldn’t go into the traps.” Her father asked again, “But what have you done about it?” She confessed, “Well, when the boys weren’t looking, I kicked the traps to pieces.” This story reminds us that love needs actions, not only prayers. As St James would say faith without action is as good as dead. (James 2:17).

The road from Jerusalem, its narrow passes and rocky terrain made it an easy place for bandits to wait for travelers. The traveler in this parable is identified only as “a certain man.” Luke uses this phrase in many of his parables so that the audience, Jew, or Gentile, could identify with the man. To many a Jew at the time of Jesus the character of the Samaritans was such that a Good Samaritan was a contradiction in terms. Jesus knew it and His parable has shocked all the Jews in his time because he told them to imitate the action of a Samaritan who was a gentile. So, the hated enemy is the compassionate neighbor in this parable. Jesus has demolished all boundary expectations. It is not social definitions such as class, religion, gender, or ethnicity that determines who is our neighbor. A neighbor is a person who acts with compassion toward another. The point becomes not who deserves to be loved as I love myself, but that I become a person who treats everyone with compassion.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, to be a Good Samaritan, we do not need to be rich, and charity is not about whom we can pick and choose to love, but it is about being willing to lend our hands, our feet, our energy, our time, and our resources to those in need. It could be helping an elderly to pick up their luggage at the airport; we may help a person to move into a new place; or we may sacrifice our free time to feed the hungry, to care for the sick or to be with the lonely, etc. To Jesus, Love is an act of kindness. Love does not end with words but expresses in actions. Love must begin in our family, in our church community and then to the society. We would guard ourselves from all kinds of selfish, personal pleasures and greed because they only make us to turn away from love. Never forget love is demonstrated by deeds!
God bless you!

Fr. Augustine Ikechukwu Opara!

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