A scholar of the law who stood up to test Jesus 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, “You have answered correctly; do this and you shall live.”
We can love our neighbor only if we love ourself, and we can only love ourself if we love the one who created us, God. This is the Law, written in stone and so difficult to follow. This is why God became the Man who stripped himself of all heavenly privileges except for love. This is why we can now follow the Law of Love – it is written in human flesh.
“I give you a new commandment: love one another as I have loved you.”
In today’s Gospel we are invited by the Church to reflect and meditate on the parable of the Good Samaritan. He is the new twist - the surprise protagonist – to our love story. He is the one who would be considered the least likely to help a Jew who had fallen to robbers. Jesus opens up a new world to his listeners. He makes it very clear, your neighbor is not necessarily the one who lives next to you or shares a common ancestry with you. In fact, your neighbor may not even share a common faith as you. Indeed, your neighbor is the one who treats you with mercy. This lesson was taught to open the hearts of the People of God.
On the night he was betrayed, the Lord told his Apostles, They will know that you belong to me by the way you love. And who were they to love? It may be obvious to us all, but it is definitely not natural to us at all. The Apostles are to not only love one another but to love the skeptic, the atheist, the abortionist, the abuser, the heretic. The Lord does not only command them to love those who show mercy and compassion, He commands his Apostles to love those who persecute and kill them. They are to love their enemy. These words were spoken to open the hearts of sinners.
This unconditional love, once applied by all, will put an end to all misunderstandings. How can one misunderstand Christian love when it is pure, sincere, and unconditional? It is who we are! It is what we do best! It is a continuation of the twist, the surprise ending to our beautiful and amazing Love Story! This love will end all wars and all forms of discrimination. It is the path that wipes away the tears due to poverty and illegal immigration.
Christ is my unexpected neighbor – the God who became my friend. Those who love belong to Christ and follow Him. We throw no one overboard. Only once was there a holy murder; when it necessary that one man perish to save a nation.
Christ asks me today to look back on my life…Was I ever surprised to receive help from an unexpected neighbor? Is there someone I know that would be surprised to receive help from me? If so, do it, and put a new twist to an already amazing love story.