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Thursday, 07 July 2022 15:13

Towards a love beyond labels

 There was a lawyer who, to disconcert Jesus, stood up and said to him, ‘Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ He said to him, ‘What is written in the Law? What do you read there?’ He replied, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself.’ ‘You have answered right,’ said Jesus. ‘Do this and life is yours.’

But the man was anxious to justify himself and said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbour?’ Jesus replied, ‘A man was once on his way down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell into the hands of brigands; they took all he had, beat him and then made off, leaving him half dead. Now a priest happened to be travelling down the same road, but when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. In the same way a Levite who came to the place saw him, and passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan traveller who came upon him was moved with compassion when he saw him. He went up and bandaged his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them. He then lifted him on to his own mount, carried him to the inn and looked after him. Next day, he took out two denarii and handed them to the innkeeper. “Look after him,” he said “and on my way back I will make good any extra expense you have.” Which of these three, do you think, proved himself a neighbour to the man who fell into the brigands’ hands?’ ‘The one who took pity on him’ he replied. Jesus said to him, ‘Go, and do the same yourself.’ (Luke 10:25-37)

Reflection - Towards a love beyond labels

Pope Francis says society creates “an adjective culture” that prefers to immediately label people as good or bad. Jesus, he says, breaks the mentality that separates, excludes, isolates and belittles the person.

A good example of what the pope says is found in the parable in today’s Gospel. The very fact that we know the story as, ‘The Good Samaritan’ seems to imply that he is the exception, that most Samaritans are ‘bad’. That’s certainly how Jesus’ audience would have viewed Samaritans.

Ideas of hospitality, welcoming the stranger and caring for those in need held a very high place in Jewish scriptures, spirituality and practice. The practise of these virtues was long recognised as responding to the Word (God’s Law) placed in the believer’s heart. That is, acting after God’s own heart.

Asking who is my neighbour (who is ’in’ or ‘out’) is the wrong question according to Jesus. Rather, one should ask, “How should a member of God’s chosen people act?” In the parable it is not a member of the Chosen People who acts after God’s heart, but an outsider, a Samaritan. It is he who shows how a member of God’s people should act towards those in need. He does not ask, “Who is my neighbour”; he shows himself to be a neighbour and a person after God’s own heart by the lavish way he helps the man in need.

This is ‘loving with all one’s heart’. Can we go and do the same?

Download & read our Celebrating At Home prayers, reading and reflection for this Sunday:

pdf Celebrating At Home 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time [PDF] (3.99 MB)                    
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