Vocation Meditation -
July 11, 2010
A lawyer stood up to test Jesus, "Teacher," he said, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus said to him, "What is written in the Law?" "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself."
And Jesus said to him, "You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live." But wanting to justify himself, the lawyer asked, Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"
Jesus replied, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side."
"But a Samaritan while traveling, came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved pity. He went over to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him."
"The next day the Samaritan took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, 'Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.'"
Jesus asked, "Which of these three, do you think, was neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?" The lawyer said, "The one who showed him mercy." Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."
The teaching of this parable summarizes the commandment on charity.
To the question of the lawyer-Jew: "Who is my neighbor?" the Rabbis in Jesus' time confined the word 'neighbor' to their narrowest understanding of the law. Neighbor to them was every fellow Jew! It was taught to all Jews that it was illegal to help the Gentiles, even illegal for them to help a Gentile woman in her sorest time, the time of childbirth, for that would only have been to bring another Gentile into the world. The lawyer's question to Jesus was a genuine social and religious reality!
Jesus' answer amplified what was written on the phylacteries every Jew wore on his wrist: "To love the Lord, your God, and your neighbor as yourself." The parable's teachings are clear and new!
- Everyone - Jew and non-Jew - must be prepared to help others even when they brought their trouble upon themselves, as the traveler had done. He traveled alone on a high-risk highway populated by thieves.
- Anyone from any nation, culture and faith who is in need, is our neighbor. Our 'neighborly' help must be as wide as the love of God for us.
- The help must be practical and not consist merely in feeling sorry. The Levite and the priest felt pity for the wounded, but they did nothing. Compassion to be real, must lead to deeds of caring.
- What Jesus said to the lawyer, He says to us: "Go, each one of you, and do the same!" This is the new law of love for all!
"Go and do likewise."
What boundaries of culture and faith do I need to overcome to be a Christian neighbor to others?
My upbringing and mentality narrow my Christian view of the world and others. I need your compassionate vision of others. Let your love filter how I gauge others' actions and needs. Enlarge my heart to love others as You love them. Make me a genuine neighbor to all. Amen.
For the full Gospel reading for this Sunday, visit the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops site.