15th Sunday in Ordinary Time
LOVE THY NEIGHBOUR
By Lisa Fernandes
We know about the ten commandments and strive to live by them. But there are two overarching commandments which incorporate and extend the ten commandments: When asked by a lawyer which commandment in the law is the greatest Jesus said to him, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40).
How does this relate to the Gospel reading today, the well-known parable of the Good Samaritan? In this reading the Good Samaritan helps a stranger that others have passed by. He is loving his neighbour as himself. It is deliberately ironic that a Samaritan is used as an example of following the commandment to love your neighbour. Samaritans were a racially mixed group who did not abide by the same strictures of Judaism and thus were not looked upon favourably by Jews.
In this reading, someone outside of Christianity sets an example so, it is not necessarily what you believe but how you act that is important. It can seem overwhelming to go to such lengths to help someone especially when you hear about Good Samaritans nowadays coming to someone’s aid and getting injured.
This might even cause you to think twice about helping others. But everyone can in their own way be charitable. My mother was at a small local shop recently and tripped entering the store. She got up and dusted herself off. She was not hurt. But the storeowner’s elderly mother, sitting at the counter, saw her fall, came over and gave her a hug. This simple gesture was an act of charity, of Christian love.
The parable reminds us that regardless of religion when someone “falls” perhaps we should give them a helping hand up. Show empathy at work to someone having a bad day. Hold the door for someone with their arms full. In this Holy Year of Mercy, this seems more important than ever.