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Archive for October 6th, 2021

Love of Neighbor

MEDITATION:

Written by Lloyd Wicker, a contemporary pastor and chaplain in the US Navy.

It can be difficult to show compassion to someone you might despise. It can also be difficult to receive help from such a person. That’s because you would think of that person as an enemy. The parable of The Good Samaritan is about showing God’s love and compassion without strings attached, even for an enemy. The question could be asked, “How could a holy God offer love to any of us, who are basically his enemies because of all the sins we do against him?” The answer is grace (unearned favor)! In Jesus’ parable, a priest and a Levite pass by and notice the man who has been robbed and beaten, but they keep going without offering any help. Then along comes a Samaritan. (In those days the Jews and Samaritans despised each other.) This man stops and takes action in practical ways. He doesn’t just throw money at the problem; he also gives his time and resources to see that the beaten man is restored to health again. Many people tend to measure their love for God by their commitment to church attendance, Bible study, giving money for ministry, or volunteering at church. Yet loving our neighbor demands more. To love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength goes hand in hand with loving our neighbor as ourselves. We are commanded to do both—regardless of who they are, what they have done, or where they come from.

PRAYER:

A prayer inspired by Fratelli Tutti, the third encyclical of Pope Francis.

You teach us in your parable that there are two kinds of people–
–those who bend down to help and those who look the other way.
Which kind of people will we be?

We say, “Yes, Lord, I will love you and love my neighbor.”
But then we ask:
The migrant… is she my neighbor?
Those in poverty…are they my neighbors?
Victims of war across the world… are they neighbors?
One who faces racism… is he my neighbor?
Those disabled or elderly… are they my neighbors?

You remind us: Yes. All of us neighbors.

Show us how to love, Lord.
May we open our eyes.
May we emerge from our comfortable isolation.
May we build a world of compassion and dignity.

Lord Jesus, who was neighbor to all,
Help us to persevere in love.
Help us to restore dignity to the suffering.
Help us to build a society based not on exclusion, but on community.

Amen.

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