Fr. Mike’s Homily for Monday of the 27th Week in Ordinary Time Cycle I
Theme: LOVE your neighbour
By: Fr. Mike Lagrimas
St. Michael the Archangel Parish
Diocese of Novaliches
Homily for Monday October 4 2021
Monday – Week 27
There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test him 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.”
The Gospel today is the Parable of the Good Samaritan. It is undoubtedly one of the most popular parables of Jesus. Surprisingly, though, it is found only in the Gospel of Luke. We can look at this parable on two levels.
The first level is obvious. It is addressed to the religious leaders, the scribes and Pharisees, who, in their pride, believe they are best and holiest persons in the world. Hence, they look down upon those whom they consider unworthy and unclean, such as the public sinners and outsiders like the Samaritans.
The commandment of love of neighbor is not something new to the Jews. This is stipulated in the Torah, specifically in Leviticus 19:9-17. So, the scholar of the law in the Gospel today knows about this already, but he just brought up the issue because he wanted ‘to test’ the Lord.
The question of the scholar of the law is: “And who is my neighbor?” This is “because he wished to justify himself.” Jesus answers his question with the Parable of the Good Samaritan. For the Jews, this is a contradiction: there is no such thing as “Good Samaritan”. Samaritans are their enemies for they are an unclean and unfaithful people.
Through this parable, Jesus illustrates the superiority of love over legalism. In fact, love transcends all barriers of culture, race and religious or social status. Love is the supreme law, and it is inclusive and universal, as shown by the very example of the heavenly Father: “for He makes His sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust” (Mt 5:45).
While the scribe asks, “And who is my neighbor?”, Jesus reverses his question at the end of the parable by asking: “Which of the three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robber’s victim?” In other words, the one looking for a neighbor is the victim. Interestingly, the scribe gives the correct answer: “The one who treated him with mercy.” A neighbor is someone who shows compassion to another person in need. In short, the question to ask is not ‘who is my neighbor?’ Rather, we should ask those persons in need, ‘Do you consider me your neighbor?’ Jesus tells the scribe not ‘who’ is his neighbor, but ‘be’ a neighbor: “Go and do likewise.”
Moreover, on a deeper level, the Good Samaritan referred to in this parable is Jesus Christ. This is the allegorical interpretation given by the Fathers of the Church. Among them is Origen (d. 254 A.D.). He explained: “The man who set forth is Adam, Jerusalem is Paradise; Jericho, the world; the thieves, the invisible power; the priest, the Law, and the Levites, the Prophets; the Samaritan, Christ; the wounds, disobedience; the beast of burden, the Body of Christ; the inn, which takes in every one, the Church; and the Samaritan’s promise, the second Coming of Christ.” (Hom. Luc. XXXIV).
In other words, therefore, the exhortation of Jesus, “Go and do likewise,” can be understood as saying, “Go, and follow my own example, for I am the Good Samaritan.” This reminds us of the event at the Last Supper. After giving the new commandment of love, Jesus washed the feet of His apostles. Then He explicitly exhorted them: “If I, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet” (Jn 13:13-14). Go, and do likewise.
The world is full of sufferings, pains and loneliness simply because we do not treat each other as neighbors. Many of us are so content and comfortable in our ‘little worlds’ that we do not care to know who are our neighbors and what they need. In fact, in most gated subdivisions, people live for many years without even knowing the name of the people living next to their house. We are more interested in building walls, not bridges. We often forget the fact that ‘no man is an island.’ And if we turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to the plight of our needy brothers and sisters, very soon we will realize that our ‘little worlds’ where we are so secure and comfortable, are actually fragile and vulnerable. And as the song says, “And my world is getting smaller every day.”
And so, let us not ask ourselves ‘Who is my neighbor?’ Instead, we ask, “Am I a neighbor to those people in need?’ If we are, then, our ‘little worlds’ will become bigger, more secure, peaceful and happy.
Fr. Mike Lagrimas
St. Michael the Archangel Parish
Diocese of Novaliches