Today’s Gospel about the Good Samaritan always reminds me of something that I once heard how approaching Jesus at the gates of heaven will be like. I am sure we will all be excited to see our Lord face to face, and also very excited to enter in to reconnect with our relatives and friends. The first challenge we will have to face is first getting through that gate!! And so we will probably have our register of good deeds with us to show Jesus; and hope that He will not be harsh about any bad things we may have done. In light of today’s Gospel, Jesus is not going to ask us how perfect or sinless we have been. He knows our human failings, and doesn’t hold them against us for eternity. He is more likely going to say (of course after first saying: “Gee it’s good to see you!”): “Did you bring anyone along with you?” I hope each one of us can respond with pride and joy: “Yes Lord; there is Mrs. Jones my neighbor! She and her family became my neighbors when I gave them some extra food and clothing for their children; then, there is Mr. Jacobs. He became my neighbor when I welcomed him to our neighborhood while others made fun of him because of his skin color and nationality. Then, there is Mr. Rocco who became my neighbor when I invited him to come to church with me after he lost his wife, and we shared coffee later.”
Getting back to the Gospel, Jesus is very strong in emphasizing that whenever we make someone our neighbor; whenever we treat someone with mercy and respect; whenever we help people feel less victimized because they look different; we will have fulfilled our lives as disciples of the Lord. For our reward, we gain our place among the saints and holy ones in heaven. The story of the Good Samaritan is a powerful example for us to follow in our lives. I can honestly say that I have seen many of our parishioners go out of their way to make someone feel more at home at our parish. It shows to me that we are true disciples of our Lord Jesus. We are not like the priest or Levite in the Gospel, who didn’t have time to help their neighbor in need. They walked right by him, and there he was lying on the ground bloodied and beaten. Only the Good Samaritan stopped and helped.
Because of the harsh conditions in our society and world today, and because of all the anger we hear every day, I am noticing more and more broken people living among us. They seem lost and without guidance or direction in their lives. When I speak with them or listen to them, they feel like I have given them more than money. For hardly anyone today in our society has shown them any mercy or compassion. They are like the man who fell victim to robbers in the Gospel. We must be Jesus for them; just like the Good Samaritan. God is counting on us!!! So make someone your neighbor today!!! ~ Fr. John