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(A reflection on Luke 10:25-37 and Galatians 1:6-12)

The Good Samaritan

The Good Samaritan – Vincent van Gogh, 1890

In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells the scholar of the law that the greatest commandment isn’t just about loving God with all your heart, being, strength and mind, but also loving your neighbor as yourself. And, in His parable about the Good Samaritan, Jesus defines our neighbor as anyone who is near us, regardless of race, gender, social status, age, and political or religious beliefs. He asks us to be observant of our neighbors, and to look for opportunities to be charitable, especially in their times of need, even when doing so is inconvenient or forces us out of our comfort zones. In other words, He asks us to be merciful as He is merciful.

As I normally do each morning during my prayer and meditation on the day’s scripture, I try to relate to what God is revealing to me through His Word, and then write a resolution to do something along those lines that will help me grow closer to Him today. I pondered, “In what situations will I find myself today in which I can observe others and look for opportunities to be merciful?” And, then I realized my main plan for the day, besides going to morning Mass, was to stay home and work in the yard. I wasn’t going to have much of a chance to observe others.

Falling back into prayer, I asked, “Lord, unless You want me to scrap my plans to weed and spread mulch and go someplace where I can observe others, what else do You have for me today?” As I listened, my mind came back to today’s first reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Galatians in which Paul reaches out to the new Christians after others had perverted his teaching and led them astray. Paul’s mission was to convert souls, never giving up no matter how frustrating or exhausting it was to him. I thought how lucky the people of Galatia were to have had Paul reach out to them as their Good Samaritan, and how they should have been thankful.

Then I remembered a time when some good Samaritans made it their mission to save my soul by bringing me to Christ. At a time when I was hurting spiritually, two couples, in cahoots with my wife, gently but persistently preached the Word of God through their actions and set the stage for me to meet with our Lord through His Holy Spirit. Had they not been the faithful, on-fire disciples that they are, they could have easily passed me by as I lay on my “road to Jericho” struggling for survival.

With prayers of thanksgiving for opening my heart to this revelation, I made it my resolution today to thank God, for the millionth time, for placing these merciful friends, who didn’t steer clear and look the other way, in my life at the time when I needed them most.

“Heavenly Father, thank You for these and all the other Good Samaritans whom You have put in my life! Help me, I pray, to look with love upon all my family and friends, and neighbors who are yet to be friends, and to be observant of their trials so that I will not miss the opportunities to be an instrument of Your mercy. Amen.”

(Good Samaritans was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)

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