HOMILY • 2019 July 14 • 15th Sunday
• Deuteronomy 30:10-14 • Psalm __ • Colossians 1:15-20 • +Luke 10:25-37 •
[_01_] This is the Good Samaritan parable. And,if there were anyone who could have excused himself from being “neighborly” and doing the rescue of the victim, the wounded/abandoned man, it was the Samaritan.
There was an excuse, there was a rational way out for the Samaritan.
The Good Samaritan could have made excuses. The Good Samaritan – for moreso than the priest and Levite – has every reason to hustle and hurry through this area and get off the road from Jerusalem to Jericho.
The Samaritan is in unfriendly territory which is foreign to him. Especially on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho, how much could we really expect from a Samaritan? Should we expect the Samaritan to be neighborly? Jesus says, yes, the Samaritan is a neighbor and this is what we can expect and hope for.
[_02_] Sometimes, we learn or we condition ourselves not to expect – not to hope for - too much. Maybe – not to hope for too much from ourselves, not to hope for too much from other people.
For many years, my uncle and father’s brother – who recently died – lived in a house independently and seemed to require a lot of oversight. That is, my uncle was likely NOT to pay his bills on time, do his banking or read his mail or to have any nourishing food in the refrigerator.
His capability seemed limited.
In fact, to this day, we would say – in my family – that my uncle was probably had some special learning needs, some cognitive needs, he was probably on the autistic spectrum …had some special learning needs related to or in the category of autism. But, in the 1940’s and 1950’s, these were not addressed for him.
Nevertheless, he had a job, served in the U.S. Army in the Vietnam era and had a productive life in many ways.
On the other hand, we did not expect much from him. He seemed limited. But, was this an excuse?
[_03] After my uncle passed away earlier this year, we were all quite surprised at the number of neighbors and friends he had acquired and acquainted himself with over the years.
His next door neighbor said it was my uncle’s presence and greeting and friendliness on the front porch of the house that led to their final decision – when they came with the real estate agent to the neighborhood for the first time.
Evidently, my uncle was well practiced in the ways of being a neighbor. He surpassed our expectations and evaluations.
And, several years ago, when he was out one day at this place / restaurant he frequented, there was some trouble, possibly a fight. And, he himself was neither big nor young nor muscular intervened to stop a fight. As a result, there was a photo of him hung on the wall of the restaurant w/ the word “HERO” (“H-E-R-O”) underneath it.
So, this surpassed our expectations. We all knew of the incident and ‘rescue’, but at my uncle’s wake and funeral, several people told me of my uncle’s heroic effort, as though I had never heard it. It was meaningful to many.
And, so sometimes we can surpass expectations.
And, the situation of the Good Samaritan parable reminds us of this surpassing of expectations, … to be charitable toward the person in need, toward the child in need, toward our parents in need (those who took care of us..now we take care of them), in a way that may surpass our expectations.
For I believe that all of us – married or single with our own children or without our own children – are going to be taking care of a neighbor or a friend, or a parent, or a sibling.
Can I be the neighbor?
[_04_] What does it mean to surpass expectations …?
St. John Paul II expressed it as follows that our neighbors are not simply the OBJECTS of our affection, or the DESTINATIONS of our debit-card transactions.
For example, have you been to Shop Rite, K-Mart, Target – recently ? …. after a hurricane? After an earthquake? Tsunami? You are asked – at cashier/checkout - to make a donation – would you like to donate $1 ….. $5 …. $10 …to hurricane relief, to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, to earthquake assistance. All worthy causes.
Sometimes, I wonder if the supermarket checkout is really a judgement-free-zone? Am I being watched or measured for how much I contribute to a particular cause? Do I want an excuse to get out of this?
Every one of us has free will. Of course, any one of us is particularly motivated in these moments – to be the Good Samaritan if the natural disaster has been particularly momentous, or if our loved ones – wherever they are – are affected.
But, sometimes in these cases, the focus is simply on the people as faraway objects of our affection.
[_05_] But the Good Samaritan reminds not only to GO GLOBAL in our charity but to be LOCAL in our love. Of the little things, the personal, of being invested and involved …and to be – as they say in the world of philanthropy large and small – to be the “recurring donor”…the Good Samaritain is not not just the one-time donor who clicks $1… $5 at the supermarket check out and walks away. He comes back to the inn and innkeeper
In this regard, the Good Samaritan does not see the wounded man as simply the OBJECT of his charity – but also a SUBJECT. The wounded man is a subject … a subjective, personal – individual needs to be attended to.
[_06_] And, certainly so many of you as parents, as mothers and fathers and as teachers and grown-up’s who care for young people, those of you who care for a loved one who is aging, we do not simply regard these individuals as the objects of our affection.
They are individuals with their own personal subjective needs. And, you are help them in their need.
And, the idea of the Catholic ethic of the sanctity and preciousness of life at all stages is that a person the object, but that a person’s life has subjective value. My life has a subjective value to me and to God … your life has a subjective value to you and to God.
Yes, it also has an OBJECTIVE value – because the value is God-given and inherent, innate, inborn. And, the fact that we recognize this “subjectivity” – is similar to what he Samaritan does – he helps the wounded man get back on his feet, get help, get healed, get free. And, so the the wounded man can also know – his own value and worth.
Every person has this inherent – subjective value no matter how small or fragile or terminally ill someone is.
We raise and care for others so that they can also love God and love their neighbor. We are called to love them as we love ourselves. We are called to grow into this …
[_07_] One day, many years ago, a little boy from down the street came to our house. In fact, he frequented our house because he was often looking for some kids his own age and my sister was about the same age as he.
We saw him coming time and after time and were accustomed.
However, one day, my grandmother was watching us and my grandmother was not accustomed to his visits. When my grandmother heard the doorbell and knock, she opened the door and he immediately ran past her and hid himself in a closet in our home.
And, my grandmother asked my sister, “what’s happening? Who is this? Do we know him?”
My sister replied: “I have no idea who he is.” That was not true.
Sometimes, we are not ready or to admit a neighbor into our lives. / We may need to grow into the idea.
I’m grateful to you our many parents and parishioners for your love for each other, for those in our community and to give me the reminders and the correction to ask, each day – “who is my neighbor?”
And, more importantly, am I a neighbor? [_fin_]