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Active, Generous, Merciful Love
Monday of the Twenty-Seventh Week in Ordinary Time
There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test Jesus 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.”
Opening Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for your endless, merciful love. You invite me to imitate your generous kindness as I love my neighbor as myself. Open my heart and mind so that I am able to hear, understand, and respond to your word.
- Who Is My Neighbor?: In Jesus’ time, Jews and Samaritans were enemies. But, in this parable, the Samaritan came to the aid of the Jew in need. Part of loving our neighbors as ourselves is examining and possibly redefining the identities of our neighbors. St. John Paul II wrote, “A stranger is no longer a stranger for the person who must become a neighbor to someone in need, to the point of accepting responsibility for his life, as the parable of the Good Samaritan shows so clearly (Luke 10:25-37). Even an enemy ceases to be an enemy for the person who is obliged to love him (Matthew 5:38-48; Luke 6:27-35), to ‘do good’ to him (Luke 6:27, 33, 35) and to respond to his immediate needs promptly and with no expectation of repayment (Luke 6:34-35). The height of this love is to pray for one’s enemy” (Evangelium Vitae 41). Are there certain people or groups of people who we consider “not our neighbor,” such as those with different political ideas, those from different countries, or those with different religious beliefs? How is Jesus calling us to reevaluate who our neighbors are?
- Mercy Is Love in Action: There are people in this parable who harm and those who neglect; there is only one who helps. Jesus says that we should imitate the one who shows mercy to inherit eternal life. The source of this merciful love is not ourselves, but God: “We love, because he first loved us. If any one says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him, that he who loves God should love his brother also” (1 John 4:19-2). How is Jesus calling us to imitate his divine mercy more closely?
- Generous Stewardship: Jesus is clear in this teaching: love and mercy go hand in hand. The Good Samaritan saw the human dignity in the beaten man, and he ministered to him in a complete stewardship of his time, talent, and treasure. He spent his time going out of his way to care for and take the man to the inn. He offered his talent in treating his wounds with oil and wine. He spent his treasure on caring for the man, giving whatever it cost in order to ensure his complete healing. Moses taught: “…do not be hard-hearted or tightfisted toward your needy neighbor. You should rather open your hand, willingly lending enough to meet the need, whatever it may be” (Deuteronomy 15:7-8). We are called to be generous with the gifts God has given us, recognizing we are mere stewards of our time, talent, and treasure.
Conversing with Christ: My Jesus, help me to carry out this greatest commandment each and every day. Help me repent of any biases or prejudices I have about people who are different from me. Help me see your face in the face of both those I love and the strangers I meet in my journey. May I always be helpful, kind, and obedient to your will, Lord. Soften my heart and open my hands, so I am loving and generous like you.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will discern one way that I can demonstrate an active love for you and my neighbor by doing a work of corporal or spiritual mercy today.
Carey Boyzuck, MTS, is a wife, mother, freelance writer, pastoral assistant, and lay member of Regnum Christi. She blogs at www.word-life-light.com.