And who is my neighbour?” by Fr Dan Devitt SDB

And who is my neighbour?”                                       Reflection for 15 Sunday 2016

At a recent funeral I met a remarkable young lady. She was not expected at the funeral. Keira is severely paralysed, very dependant, and living in England. What persuaded her to undertake the hazardous journey, the difficulties of the flight, the inconvenience of it all. Keira wanted to be a Good Samaritan; she wanted to be personally present to her grieving life-time friends. She wanted them to experience how much she cared.

To-day’s passages from scripture remind us that God’s law is a law of caring, a law of love. In the parable of the Good Samaritan a lawyer poses a question and Jesus provides the answer by describing what a Good Samaritan does. The power of love is demonstrated by the Samaritan’s personal involvement in the needy stranger.

There is a shocking simplicity in the way Jesus interprets the law of God. He sums up all the law in the simple injunction – Love God and love your neighbour as yourself. And wasn’t that the story of his life. Jesus, himself the Good Samaritan, He was moved at the sight of sinners, the sick and the suffering. He did not pass people by in their poverty and pain. He connected with all in need.

To follow Jesus, the Good Samaritan, is to be invited to imitate him, to act like him, to be a good neighbour to all in need. There are endless needs in our modern world; food for the starving, access to clean water, education, peace, justice, reconciliation – the list goes on. The special people we are called to love are the alienated, the marginalized, the oppressed, the disenfranchised. We are called to care for those who have fallen among robbers and exploiters, who take away young peoples’ basic rights and abandon them to live in squalor and depredation.

We can feel helpless in the face of such challenging needs. When Jimmy Carter was in the Oval office he placed a slogan on the president’s desk. The slogan read “Lord, your sea is so big and my boat is so small”. Facing big problems is nothing new. The Christophers remind us that “it is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.

So often we can pass by those in need because of some prejudice of ours. On those occasions we would do well to look into our own hearts and discover how wounded, how broken, we are ourselves. Then we can discover in the weak and wounded and broken our own reflection and thereby become wounded healers ourselves. As Leonard Cohen would put: “there are cracks everywhere, that’s how the light gets in”.

In her beautiful prayer St Theresa reminds us that Christ has no body now but ours.

Are our eyes open to see the pain in the eyes of other peoples?

Are our ears open to hear the cry in the voices of other peoples?

Are our hearts open to become involved in the hurts of other peoples?