Francis of Assisi
556 South Jersey Street;
Denver, CO 80224
National Catholic Church (PNCC)
St. Francis of Assisi Polish National Catholic Church (PNCC) @2008
The lesson of the Good Samaritan parable in today’s Gospel is as fresh today as it was for those who heard it from the lips of Jesus that day. No matter where we live, the roads of life have neighbors lying injured by the wayside. They aren’t all as obvious as the man in the parable. But, they’re in just as much need of help. They’re waiting and hoping that someone will come along and give them a helping hand. When you encounter these neighbors you have the same choices to make as the priest and Levite. Like them, you can shut your eyes or turn away or cross over to the other side of the street to avoid encountering them. No doubt like most of us the priest and Levite were very busy. Perhaps they were late for an appointment or maybe it was just a busy day for robbers and they had already helped some many they had nothing left to give. Whatever their reason they ignored their needy neighbor and carried on with their own lives.
So, what’s the point? The point is there are no excuses that really matter, Jesus doesn’t let them off the hook for any reasons and he won’t let you off the hook either. Even the lawyer didn’t find any justifying excuse for them. In the eyes of God and their neighbor, they behaved badly. They showed they had no interest in their neighbor when he was in need. They didn’t want to take the time or to be inconvenienced or to get involved. They ignored the commandments of their faith. With this in mind, we must measure our actions toward our neighbor next to those of the Samaritan. In case you don’t already know, that’s what Jesus does. And when he does compare your actions to those of the Samaritan will you earn his praise or condemnation? Will he number you with the priest and Levite, or with the Samaritan?
If you give a helping hand to the neighbors you see along the road in physical or spiritual need as often as you possibly can, you can be sure Jesus will number you among the good Samaritans. But if instead, you turn a blind eye and cross over to the other side busying yourselves with your own affairs, then you have chosen to classify yourselves with the condemned priest and Levite. No doubt you’re very busy and have such a great demand on your time you can’t possibly stop to help everyone you see needing help. You have more than enough to do looking after your own material and spiritual affairs. Not unlike the priest and Levite. And besides, nobody helped you when you were going through similar hard¬ships so why should you be expected to help?
Why? The why should be crystal clear. The why is because you’re Christians. You profess to be followers of Jesus Christ and his command is to love one another as he’s loved us. How can we say we love one another if we won’t stop and give a helping hand to our brothers and sisters in need? Loving one another means we must do for others as Jesus does for us. The excuses we offer for not helping our neighbor may sound plausible to us now, but how will they sound when we face Jesus on our judgment day? In describing judgment day Jesus told certain people they were being excluded from heaven because they refused to help him when he was in need. They were astonished and said to him: "Lord when did we see you hungry, thirsty, naked and did not come to your aid?" And Jesus answered, "You saw my neighbor, my 'little ones’, my friends, in need and you did not help." Even with so much social provision for the less fortunate in our society, we’re still called to exercise corporal works of mercy. Never before has there been more need for sincere Christians to carry out the spiritual works of mercy.
We’re living in a world which is daily growing further and further away from God. We find people in every walk of life whose one purpose is to get all they can anyway they can as fast as they can. Bernie Madoff and others like him come to mind. They completely ignore or have forgotten that their real purpose in life is to get to heaven. They’re not interested in hearing what we have to say about their salvation. And this is our challenge; We must work to find more effective ways of getting our neighbor to see his mistakes. We must make a concerted effort to seek them out everyday. Start again today by taking a sincere interest in your neighbor. You can illumine the way for him by the way you live your life and by your outlook demonstrating God is never far from your thoughts. Never lose sight of or forget you are God’s billboard, his walking talking Gospel. You are a signpost along the way for others who may have lost their way. If you truly love God, you will truly love your neighbor. And that true love you show for your neighbor will find a way into your neighbor’s heart.
The Good Samaritan parable is one of the best known, if not the best known parable in the Bible. It ranks up there with The Golden Rule. We’ve all have heard it from as far back in our childhood as we can remember. Christians and non-Christians alike know and repeat this parable. The term Good Samaritan has become synonymous with doing good deeds for others. In our hearts we all would love to be known as and thought of as a Good Samaritan. I believe it is in our nature to be Good Samaritans. But how many of us can really say we are indeed Good Samaritans? Not just once in a while but always? If you can’t, then start today. Actively join the thousands who repeatedly reach out to the victims of natural and man caused disasters. Give of yourself and your wealth to help those in need. Remember the parable of the widow’s mite. She gave her last penny to help others she believed to be in greater need. Through your actions in helping others you show the world what it really means to be a Christian. There are many all around us who’re in spiritual need and won’t reach heaven without a helping hand. Your example can be that helping hand.
This year our neighbors in Colorado have suffered tragic losses from the wild fires and flash floods. Many families have lost everything and now have neither home nor clothing. We as Christians are again called to help. Please look into your hearts and your pocketbooks and give what you can. These are very hard times for us all, please give what you are able to give and don’t feel badly if you cannot. Please send your checks to the American Red Cross with “Flood and Fire relief Funds” noted on the memo line. Again, I ask you to be as generous as you can to help those in such desperate need.
Christ said, What you do for your neighbor, "one of my little ones," you do for me, and you can be sure he will not forget it when your hour of judgment comes. So, go and do likewise.