ST. MARY THE MOTHER OF GOD CATHOLIC CHURCH

370 East Main Street
PO Box 7
Wytheville, VA 24382
Phone: (276) 228-3104
Fax: (276) 228-3322
officemanager@stmaryswytheville.com

Welcome to the Pastor's Desk

15th Sunday of Ordinary Time

St. John, in his first letter, said: “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?” (4:20) and before Jesus died He gave His disciples a new commandment to “love one another as I have loved you,” (John 15:12). In other words, the basis for loving other people is that God has loved us first.

The Golden Rule, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27) which we hear in today’s gospel is not just a Christian thing. Every religion and culture in the world has the Golden Rule in one form or another.

Judaism: “What is hateful to you; do not to your fellow man. That is the law: all the rest is commentary.”

Islam: “No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself.”

Hinduism: “This is the sum of duty: do naught unto others which would cause you pain if done to you.”

Buddhism: “Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.”

Confucianism: “Do not unto others what you would not have them do unto you.

The Golden Rule is understood differently in different religions and cultures. And the key to its understanding lies in the question that the lawyer asked Jesus in today’s gospel, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus responded by asking what is stated in the law. The lawyer answer that it is to love God and to love your neighbor as you love yourself and Jesus asked him to do likewise. But the lawyer was not contented and so he asked again, “Who is my neighbor?” and Jesus gave the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Samaritans and Jews were not in good term during that time. Jews considered Samaritans as outsiders not as their neighbor because they broke the law and mingled with the Gentiles.

For us how can we love our neighbor? There are many ways according to one priest,

First, love your neighbor as you love yourself. All of us know, as St. Paul said, that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, God dwells in us. He makes His home in us. We are the Body of Christ. This is one of the reasons why we have to love, respect and honor our body. Therefore we have to love our neighbor because they are the temples of the Holy Spirit and Body of Jesus Christ too. Every time the priest says in the Mass: The Lord be with you,” and we respond: “And with your spirit.” It is like the priest tells us that God makes His home in you, in us.

Second, Service is love. Service is forgiveness. Remember what the Lord had said to His disciples: “What you do to the least of my brothers/sisters, you do this to me.” All of us human beings are created by God in his image and likeness. What we do to the lost, the least and last we do this to God. When we serve the poor, clothe the naked, bathe the dirty children, it is God whom we served. It is the Risen Christ who becomes alive in our midst.

Third, your neighbor is the person next to you. Look at the person besides you, that person is your neighbor at present moment. There is no need for you to go out from the church and look for a person and treat him/her as your neighbor. That person next to you now is your neighbor who may need help. He may be hungry for the word of God. He may be thirsty for your love.

Fourth, be one with him/her except sin. One time I passed by a group of bystanders who were drinking liquor and said to me: “Father, come join us, let us drink!” I answered them back: “No, thank you. I have other works to do” They said to me: “Father, you’re making yourself out with us your friends.” But I told them: “I know, i can join you but not in this way. Your family is waiting for your care and love in your home,” and I walked away. If we love the person, let us try to correct him in order for him to become a better person and a better Christian.

Fifth, love unceasingly; we have to love without conditions. We have to love other person whoever he or she is. But sometimes, we love other people with conditions like: I love you because you are beautiful or because of the good qualities in you. I love you because you are rich, powerful and popular. But on the other hand, i can love you even if you are no longer beautiful. Even if you are no longer handsome, I still love you and care for you. Even if you are no longer rich, powerful and popular, I still love you. This is loving unceasingly.

At the end let us reflect on this story; in the book entitled Speaker’s Sourcebook by Glen Van Ekcren told that during Vietnam War, a soldier called up his mother over the phone: “Hello mom,” the caller said, “I’m back in the States in an early release from my army duties in Vietnam.” “That’s wonderful my son,” his mother replied, “When will you be home?”

The young man said: “That all depends. You see, I would like to bring home a friend with me.” “Sure, bring him home with you for a few days,” she responded. But the son explained: “Mother, there is something you need to know about my friend. Both legs are amputated, one arm is gone, his face quite disfigured and one ear and eye are missing. He’s not much good to look at, but he needs a home badly.” The mother stammered: “A home? Why don’t you bring him along for a few days?”

“You don’t understand,” the young pleaded. “I want to bring him home to live at our house.”

“I think, that is asking a lot, my son,” the mother protested. “I’m sorry about his condition, but what would our friends think? Your father would not agree. I would be embarrassing to have your friend…And…” The phone went dead.

Later that night, the parents returned from their party and found an urgent message to call the police. The mother placed the call and the police at the other end said: “We have just found a young man with both legs and one arm missing. His face badly disfigured and one eye and ear gone. He shot himself in the head. His identification says he is your son.”

Perhaps we can say that if the child honestly told his parents that the friend he was talking about is none other than himself, most probably his parents could have agreed to have him live in their home. But he was not. The story would tell us also about our human weakness of being selective and discriminating with our love. We accept and love people as long as they conform to our ways.

My dear friends let us pause for a moment and reflect for a while. Let us make our hearts less selfish and let our hearts be filled with compassion, love, mercy and kindness to others. Let us be a good samaritan.