Fr. Ottavio Raimondo
Love makes us Neighbours
This Word is very near to you (1st Reading Deuteronomy 30, 10-14)
All things were created through him and for him (2nd Reading Colossians 1, 15-20)
And who is my neighbor (3rd Reading Luke 10, 25-37)
“Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
It was very meaningful what the Pope John XXIII said when he was near to die: “Now, more than ever, for sure more than the ancient time, we have the strong desire to serve humanity as an all, thinking not only about the Catholics; we also desire to defend the human rights of the human person and not only he rights of the Catholic Church. The Gospel doesn’t change; we are the very ones who start to understand Him better… The time to recognize the “signs of time” has come; we have to catch the opportunity to look ahead”.
The very religious revelation fulfilled by Jesus consists of opening a way towards God; this way isn’t sacred, but profane, the way that allow relating with the neighbor. J. Moingt wrote: “Jesus became the universal Savoir because he opened this available way to anyone. He opened the way through himself, accepting to pay with his own life the oath of having taken away from the official worship the monopoly of salvation”.
A Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion when he saw him
Where is Jesus in this parable? According to the Church tradition Jesus is the Good Samaritan. But we can say that he is also the “half dead” (“I tell you solemnly, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me Mt 25, 40). We can say that he is also the innkeeper who welcomes anyone (“Come to me, all you who labor and are overburdened and I will give you rest. Shoulder my joke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls! Mt 11, 28-29).
And where are you? Are you perhaps the ill intentioned doctor of the law? Are you the one coming down to Jericho and falls into the hands of brigands, left ‘half dead’? Are you the priest or the Levite who decided to pass on the other side, though they saw the ‘half dead’? Are you the Samaritan traveler who, in spite of his plans, ‘was moved with compassion’ and took care of ‘the half dead’? Are you the innkeeper able to participate to the solidarity started by other people?
‘Passing away’ is the exact opposite of what Jesus did: when he used to go through the streets he paid attention for all. “Passing away” sometimes means not having done something wrong. The Samaritan had a target, he was travelling, saw him as the doctor and the Levite did, but he, only, was moved by compassion. He takes care of the situation of the ‘half dead’ to the point to cancel his plans. It’s time of no more questions. It’s time of taking our responsibility towards the hounded, which is not only a unique person but entire populations.
“Go, and do the same yourself”
Choosing the poor little by little becomes a choice with the poor and so there are no more limits. This is the spirituality of the ‘dirty hands’. This spirituality grows through a concrete service to the others, my brother, and my sister. It’s a service that hasn’t boundaries: it’s made with much care; takes care for the future and it involves also others (the innkeeper) in the midst of our reality. Being neighbor doesn’t create automatically love, but it’s the personal and unselfish love, itself, which makes us neighbor. The question of Jesus it’s very clear and disarmed: “Which of these three, do you think, proved himself a neighbor to the man who fell in to the brigands’ hands?”
The doctor of the law is incapable to pronounce the name ‘Samaritan’: it’s difficult for him to recognize that also the no Jewish , the foreigners, can observe the law and so inherit the eternal life. Jesus ends the dialogue with the missionary forwarding: “Go, and do the same yourself”.
Father Ottavio Raimondo, Comboni Missionary 348-2991393