Sunday Breakfast with the Word 15th Sunday Ordinary Time of the Year C
Deuteronomy 30:10-14, Colossians 1:15-20, Luke 10:25-37
Who is Our Neighbour?
A popular priest is so much loved by his parishioners that the people always rush to embrace and greet him whenever he comes for mass or any public gathering. He is so much loved by all.
After the holy mass, the people will always rush to the sacristy to wait and share a warm handshake or laying of hands for blessings. Many of His parishioners always garnish him with a lot of gifts. When He was sick, it was as if heaven was let loose. Many of his parishioners visited and bought him a lot of gifts.
The priest knows that his parishioners love him.
But he also discovered the same love they show to him is not seen in the way they relate with each other.
In that same parish, so many poor people are neglected, and some poor people were abandoned and left to suffer. Even the poor beggars in front of the parish are being left out by the people. The wise priest thought of a way to correct this attitude among the parishioners. He knew the people loved him but they did not love themselves. He then thought of a way to translate this into their attitude.
The priest thought it wise to disguise like one of the beggars at the parish gate one early morning before the Holy Mass of the day. Then, He stood at the gate of the parish in disguise and dressed like a beggar.
Lo and behold His parishioners could not recognise that it was still that beloved priest they rush to greet and embrace every day. Even some of His best friends and core members of the parish passed him without even talking to him. Now as the people were waiting for him, the priest walked inside the church, still dressed like a beggar.
The people were looking at him intently and some of the churchwardens or ushers tried to prevent him from entering the church. Yet he insisted on walking to the altar. When he reached the altar, he grabbed the microphone and the first statement he uttered was “I am fr. Michael”.
Many people were bewildered. Some of them were asking how can he be the Fr. Michael they know and love. The priest gradually removed all he was wearing and uttered again “do you believe now that I am Fr. Michael?”. There was a great silence in the church.
The priest continues “I know all these while that you love me. You always rush to greet me and embrace me, you do it because I am a priest, right? Yet many others live around us and yearn just for our greetings, we neglect them and this is what you did to me today, so if you truly love me, do the same to others.
This raises the “who is our neighbour?” Who is worthy of our charity? Who is worthy of our love? Is it only our relatives? Our friends? Classmates? The people we love? What of our enemies?
What of the poor, are they among? Who is really our neighbour?
In today’s gospel, Jesus exposes the need to show love to our neighbour This raises the question “who is our neighbour.
Literal Meaning of Neighbour.
A neighbour according to some dictionaries is that person we share a common neighbourhood with. Hence, our neighbour means the person who shares some common affiliation with us.
He is the person who is living close to us. In essence, he is someone that lives near or next door to us.
Through the parable of the Good Samaritan in today’s gospel, Jesus indicates that our neighbour goes beyond the above definition.
So, our neighbour is not limited to the person living near us. Our neighbour is not only the person we share a neighbourhood with. So, who is our Neighbour? Before we give this question, we shall take the readings gradually and explain them bit by bit.
Our focus today will be centred on the parable of the Good Samaritan in the gospel reading of today.
The Pre-Encounter With Jesus.
In the gospel, a lawyer approached Jesus to test him. The lawyer stood up and said to him, ‘Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ 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 this lawyer was anxious to justify himself and said to Jesus, Who is Our Neighbour?
In the gospel, Jesus asks the lawyer ‘What is written in the Law? What do you read there?’The man 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.’
In this response, Jesus reveals that to love God only is not complete. Hence, we complete it when we show that same love to our neighbour.
Who is Our Neighbour?
To answer the question on who is our neighbour, Jesus tells the story of the Good Samaritan. In the gospel test, Jesus says that a certain man was going 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.
Therefore, this man needed help, badly. He is critically in a sad condition that needs immediate attention. The text didn’t tell us whether He is a Jew or a gentile. There is a human being lying by the road, who is seriously wounded and who desperately needs help.
Then Jesus says that two of the Jewish most respected people passed through the man and paid blind eye to him.
Two reasons that could be due to this could be because they were going somewhere, they were presumably attending a function, or because they do not want to be unclean. Remember that when a jew touches a dead body, they believe that he becomes unclean immediately.
It could also be because of the loneliness of the road. They may think that the man is pretending and may be among the brigands that ply that road. These would have necessitated them not to help. Hence, when the Good Samaritan came forward, He overlooked these to save life first. Therefore, the lessons we have to learn today are:
1. Saving lives must be our priority. It is the first in everything we do. Therefore, when we have this at the back of our minds, every sector in the country will begin to work well again.
2. Also, it shows to us that our neighbours are also those people we have millions of reasons not to help. They are those people we have already decided not to listen to their cry again. The Good Samaritan teaches us to listen to them anyway.
The True Love of Neighbour In the Parable
To explain the question of who is our neighbour, Jesus tells the parable of the Good Samaritan.
In this parable, let us critically analyse what it truly means to show true love.
In Jesus’ story, the man attacked by armed robbers was moving from Jerusalem to Jericho, which according to some commentators is approximately 17 miles.
This particular road is lonely, dangerous, and a den of thieves. This could still explain why others saw him and continued their journey without paying attention to save his life because they may be afraid because of how lonely the road is.
They could suspect that this could be a deception to trap them. So, they did not pay attention to them.
2. The Good Samaritan did not think of this, he focused immediately to save the life of the other person.
The priest and the Levite who passed are so much interested in protecting themselves, but the Samaritan is interested in the other person.
Therefore, the true love of neighbour is in how we relate with other people. The true love of neighbour is when we show deep interest in the salvation and life of the other person.
The True love of neighbour is not selfish but selfless. It focuses more on saving lives than on personal acquisition.
The true love of neighbour is sharing, saving, and helping the people we come in contact with.
If our political leaders today truly love those they serve, they will focus all their attention on how to better their lives than on personal possessions.
If every member of the family truly loves each other, there will be peace, tolerance and understanding. This is the true love of neighbour.
Our neighbour is not only those living around us or people who share blood relationship with us. The true neighbour goes beyond this.
Who is Also Our Neighbour then?
1. Our neighbour is also that person we hate for no reason and suffer him/her for no just cause.
2. He/she is also that man or woman we are intimidating with our positions and fighting behind the scenes to pull him down.
3. Our neighbour is also that person that we have been praying for his downfall and death, sending Holy Ghost fire to burn him down. Our neighbour is also that man or woman we stand in between His progress and we have sworn that he will never see the light of the day because we hated him for no reason.
4. He/she is also that young boy or young girl, we have lied against or behind his/her back so that people will incriminate him/her. He or she is also that person we have lied against to prevent her from getting married.
5. Our neighbour is also that man or woman living beside us. We know quite well we are capable of helping him/her but have refused to let a little helping hand because we want Him to be worshipping us like a king.
6. Our neighbour is also that person we sent away from our houses and bashed on him/because he/she asked us for a little assistance
7. He/she is also that person we blocked on our social media because he sent us a message, and we begin to think he/she is coming for our money.
He is also that person we have refused to reply to his message because we think he is not on our level yet. And probably we forget he might be seeking a little advice from us.
8. Our neighbour is also that person we envy his or her progress despite we have not for one day encouraged Him/her.
He is the person we maim and decimate at his/her back, projecting only a bad image of him which may not be true.
9. Our neighbour is that man or woman we have bluntly refused to forgive.
He is also the person we have spent our money going to court, seeking revenge other than making peace.
10. Our neighbour is also that person that we can never say any good thing about them despite he/she has not done anything to us.
He is the person we have been fighting against because he does not belong in the same political party, region and place as us.
Therefore, to show true love for neighbours, we have to change the negative ways we relate to people.
12. my “neighbour” is someone I don’t know. They are filled with people who don’t know you, don’t care to know me, they are not meanly our relatives. They are also our enemies. Therefore, it means that we have to love them.
The Easiest Route To Eternal life.
By talking about the parable, the lawyer’s questions simply reveal that to love our neighbours is the easiest way to eternal life. Jesus says that this is the easiest route to eternal life.
Therefore, eternal life is not when we pretend to get a favour from someone. It is not when we are showing fake love and relationship. Eternal life consists in saving the poor and the depressed.
The true love of neighbours is all-encompassing and without limitations. If we want to truly be like the Lord, love should lead in everything we do.
1. In the gospel of today, the lawyer comes to Jesus asking this question to put Jesus to the test. It is a hypocritical question. The point is that the lawyers come to Jesus feigning ignorance as if He is seeking knowledge. He comes to Jesus as a student but inside his heart, he is not.
He comes as a friend but deep down within, he comes to tempt Jesus.
The lawyer appears to be seeking knowledge like most of us do but He is not seeking to be taught by Jesus, nor is he interested in finding the way to eternal life. His major aim is to pull Jesus down.
He seeks a way to test and expose the weakness of Jesus. This is exactly what is ruining our bloodline today as neighbours. We claim to be close to each other. We claim to love each other, but deep down within, we know we are not.
Many of us claim to help another person, disguising it as a form of help but deep down within us, we know we are not rendering any help. Who is our neighbour? Our neighbour is also that person we have been deceiving in the name of help and love. He or she is also that person you have held bondage to through your lies and deception.
We have to know through the parable of the good samaritan that the best treatment we owe to one another is to heal and not to deceive the other person. We are called to be a good neighbour to the other person and not to pull him down.
Today, many people will come to your face to fake friendship, but secretly, they are the people killing and destroying the other person. Our neighbour is also the person we have been hatching all evil plans for disguising as a friend. Therefore, how Jesus wants us to relate with them is not to destroy them in deception but to heal them.
2. When the lawyer asks, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life,” Jesus concludes that statement with “Do this and live.” Therefore, the love that we live, the love that we express to others is what leads us to life beyond. The Love we show to the poor, the downtrodden, the depressed, the suffering etc will be our testament on the last day.
It is not praying in tongues but we live in hatred and division. It is not killing and destroying one another while we claim to be sons of God. Sons of God do not shed blood.
It is not when we pray in tongues, yet our hearts are full of bitterness and wickedness. In James 1:27, the bible says that the “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained from the world. This is the reason the Good Samaritan was different from the three.
3. When the lawyer asks Jesus, Jesus answers him “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind. And then love your number as yourself.
Therefore, Jesus gives two conditions for this love to be complete. First, it must involve all. It must involve everything about you without reservation. There should be no deception. It must come through your heart, it must be with your heart, soul and mind.
Secondly, You must not only love your neighbour, you must love him as you love yourself. Therefore, the way you love yourself must be the way you love the other person. This should be without reservation.
4. Just like the priest and the Levite saw this man in a critical condition and pay a blind eye to him is the way we have paid a blind eye to the sufferings of many around us.
It is the same way we have paid a blind eye to people who are passing through difficulties and come to us for solace. Also, It is the same way our politicians have paid a blind eye to the suffering of the masses and instead of canvassing for change, they are still canvassing for more destruction and anarchy.
It is the same way our leaders have paid a blind eye to the sufferings of the masses. Jesus did not praise their attitude, therefore, let us not think that God will clap for us when we pay a blind eye to the cries of the masses, the suffering of the poor and when we treat others badly.
5. In the text, The priest came upon the injured victim first but he deliberately walked away. He did not even ask the man if he needed help. He didn’t even encourage him. Also, He did not even cry for help, at least for others to come for help. The Levite was no different than the priest.
He passed by the suffering traveller on the other side, so that he would not feel obligated to do anything to help him. He did not even show any sign of concern for the deplorable condition of the traveller. Hence, the Samaritan was the only one that showed concern.
Jesus says that the Samaritan was moved with compassion when he saw the man. This is what differentiates him from others. It is due to this heart of compassion that pushed him to bandage his wounds and pour oil and wine on them. He then carried him to the inn and looked after him. The next day, he took out two denarii and handed them to the innkeeper.
The critical difference between the Samaritan, the priest, and the Levite is their compassion or lack of it. What will make a difference in our lives is the type of hearts that we have. We need a heart that is willing to help. We need a heart that is willing to save, not a selfish heart. Hence, We need a heart that is willing to correct and save lives.
We need a leader whose heart is yearning for change. Not a leader whose interest is to feed on the masses. With a heart of compassion, everything around us will surely begin to change.
When we lack the heart of compassion, we will always pay a blind eye to the wailing, crying and pains of the people. Until we have the heart of compassion. We will remain where we are.
May God bless you dearest and give us the grace to love and cherish one another. May you encounter His Love in whatever you do. Amen