By Deacon John Cronin:
In today’s Gospel, Jesus challenges us to do three things:
1) To see,
2) To be moved with compassion
3) To act with mercy.
Most Church-goers want to be holy.
To be set apart in the service of God’s Love.
The lawyer – the supposed “expert” on God’s law – thinks he’s holy.
He definitely feels set apart.
And He’d hate to associate with someone as “unclean” as a Samaritan.
He knew of the law: to love God and neighbor.
But that was just all up in his head,
He didn’t hold this love in his heart.
He used the law to give himself social status,
To elevate himself above others.
But even Moses,
the great prophet of the Law, begged his people:
“Heed the voice of the Lord… with all your heart and all your soul.”
We aren’t here to beat up on the pious Jews of Jesus’ day.
There’s a temptation for any good person to act like the lawyer.
To twist God’s law into a way of excluding others.
To judge others as less loved by God than us.
To avoid them.
To look the other way.
But Jesus says: Not so fast!
Look in the ditch!
Who do you see?
When I was in college in New York City,
my friends and I passed by the homeless several times a day.
There seemed to be more beggars than taxi cabs on Broadway.
While we may have smelled them, we didn’t see them.
We’d be going about our business
Deep in conversation
And without a break in the action
We’d just sidestep a human being in need,
like he’s a hole in the sidewalk.
In baptism, we are called to be holy.
To love as God loves.
And we cannot love God without loving our neighbor.
Especially the neighbor we really don’t like.
We all have them.
You know: The one it’s R E A L L Y I N C O N V E N I E N T to love.
But Every person is born in the image of God.
Do the people we meet see the face of the Invisible God in Us?
The face of Jesus?
The face of Mercy?
We all try to do the right thing,
And I bet we can see mercy in most of our neighbors…
We’re called to be Jesus for others.
Most of us get that.
But a real challenge is to remember where else Jesus is:
We see our Lord in the faces of those in desperate need:
Or Just those odd people in our lives it’s so hard to love.
I invite you to consider Jesus as that man in the ditch.
The one desperately seeking our love and compassion.
Jesus reconciled the whole world to himself
by the Blood of His Cross,
by His perfect Compassion.
So the next time it’s hard to love,
See Jesus there, calling you,
Be moved with compassion, answering his call,
And act mercifully, growing in the joy of his Love.
It’s easy to be the lawyer and make excuses.
To ignore the inner tug of our hearts.
To deaden our consciences.
To turn away from God.
To treat a neighbor in need like just another hole in the sidewalk.
But we all need God’s mercy.
And we’re closest to the God of Mercy when we step into that ditch.
It’s easy to harden our hearts.
But we know in our God-given hearts –
– In His merciful love for each of us:
He is everywhere in this world.
And the first place we’ll find him…
Is lying in that ditch.
The world cries out for God’s mercy.
Be that mercy for those in desperate need of it.
Ignore the excuses for looking the other way.
For we just might miss the face of God-in-our-midst.