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Let’s Be Neighbors

By Sr. Mary Ruth Wand, SSND

“Live and let live.”  “Mind your own business.”  “Leave well enough alone.”  It’s not my problem.”  “Don’t get involved.”  So goes the wisdom of the world.  One of these sayings might come to mind when you see a car accident, a bum on the sidewalk, a competitor going bankrupt, a parent slapping a child, a teenage prostitute, a disturbing news story…

We who have received the love of Christ are to live by a different law.  It is “very near to you…in your hearts; you have only to carry it out.”  (Deuteronomy 30:14) We are to live in Christ’s love and let our neighbor experience that same life-giving love.  And yet, like the scholar of the law in today’s Gospel, we always try to define who is, or, more precisely, who isn’t, our neighbor.  There’s no escaping the message of this Gospel passage.  Everyone we fear or despise, every victim, every outsider, every undeserving soul who God loves, we are to “go and do likewise.”  God’s compassion moves in and through us when we cross boundaries to reach out to others.

The good Samaritan doesn’t ask the victim, “Who did this to you?’  or “Did you deserve it?”  or “Can you pay me back?”  Like, Christ, the Samaritan reveals “the image of the invisible God” by treating the suffering person with compassionate mercy and healing his wounds.  Like Christ, the Samaritan lifts him up and pays the price for the sins of the robbers by buying him shelter and nourishment and a new life, not counting the cost.

The real question with which love is concerned is not who one’s neighbor is, but rather, who lives like a neighbor.  Jesus invites the lawyer in today’s story to look beyond his self-concern because love is primarily directed toward others.  Selfless care is the hallmark of love. The point of Jesus’ story goes beyond the admonition to “be nice to strangers.” 

As a faith community of St. Vincent de Paul parish, we are called to recognize others, encourage participation, respond to needs, provide opportunities for spiritual growth, pray for one another.  We are called to holiness with and through one another.  Our first question should not be “How can the parish serve us?” but “How can the parish receive and fully embrace the gifts of the people?” 

One specific concern at St. Vincent de Paul is ministry to our sick, elderly, homebound parishioners.  There is a growing number in this group and we strive to strengthen their connection with the parish, especially by parishioners’ visiting and bringing Holy Communion on a regular basis.  Anyone who is a Eucharistic minister is blessed to be permitted to bring Jesus to people in their homes.  What a mutual gift!  If you can help in this wonderful endeavor or have questions, please contact the parish or, me, Sr. Mary Ruth.  All of us can continue to pray for one another and be open to opportunities for Faith growth and deeper Christian living as the Holy Spirit leads us!  God bless us all and may we be good neighbors!