Sunday, July 14, 2019

Start with the person right in front of you (Sunday homily)

Sometimes the Scripture readings are pretty darn clear. Too clear. 
We see plainly what they are saying, 
but we don’t like what they are saying.

So it is with today’s Gospel. “Who is my neighbor?”
You and I know darn well what Jesus’ answer is. 
It is as plain as day. 
We know exactly what he’s saying, don’t we?
Does this really need to be explained?

It’s like this. If you are wondering, 
“what about that person? Or that person? 
But surely, not that person over there?”
You already know the answer, don’t you?
Of course you do! We all do.

Jesus died for absolutely everyone, no exceptions.
He considers everyone his neighbor.
So the rule is: go and do likewise.

The figuring-out part isn’t hard; we’re all there already.
What’s hard is the doing it. The will to do it: the “want to.”
And I can’t really supply that for you.
You know what Jesus wants. You know what he himself did.
And you know, in the depths of your heart, 
what sort of person you truly want to be. Me too.

Only the Holy Spirit – at your request – can supply the “want to.”
And by that I mean, to want it enough 
that you go beyond just thinking about it, and actually DO something.

Now, here’s a detail from the Gospel that didn’t strike me right away.
We often think about the call to be neighborly, to be generous, 
to share our faith, 
in terms of going out here and there and everywhere.
And Jesus has told us to do exactly that on other occasions.

But notice in this Gospel, there is no need to go searching.
The person who needs help is right there on the path.
The priest and Levite didn’t need to go even one step out of their way.
In fact, they had to go out of their way to avoid helping the man.

So here’s the point. Maybe you’re wondering, 
do I need to go on a mission trip? 
Should I go sign up at the soup kitchen in Sidney or Piqua? 
To help out with Rustic Hope or the women’s shelter? 
Am I supposed to volunteer in Dayton?

Those are all great things to do.

But a good start is to be exactly like the Samaritan:
Be generous with the person who God puts right in your path.
You don’t have to go hunting around. 

Just start with that. 
Be daring today, and tell Jesus that you’ll do at least that much.


John F. Kennedy said...

Are the robbers ALSO our neighbor?

Recently I read that some prelates are saying they are and that we should "accompany" and welcome them. It seems that they and their victims both deserve justice and any potential victims need our help in their defense. It also seems that to deliberately encourage the robbers we participate in their crimes / sins against the innocent.

Fr Martin Fox said...


In the context of the parable, I think Jesus is not asking us to focus on the robbers, so in that sense, no, they aren't our neighbors.

But in the context of real life, I would say that even those who commit crimes are indeed our neighbors. That doesn't mean we approve of their actions, or that we don't seek justice, because justice is necessary even for their own salvation.

John F. Kennedy said...


I agree, for our BAD neighbors, justice is necessary for the salvation. I've read that a looming death sentence REALLY clarifies the mind and turns you to the Lord.