Homily 15th Sunday Year C: Michael U. Udoekpo· Deut 30:10-14;
· Ps 69:14,17,30-34,36-37;or Ps 19:8-11;
· Col 1:15-20
· Luke 10:25-37.
Loving God in our Neighbors!
In today’s Gospel reading (Luke 10:25-37) there is this great scholar, a scribe, a professor of the law who wants to know what he must do in order to inherit the kingdom of God. What must I do to inherit the kingdom of God? The answer which Jesus led him to- is central to the bible lessons of today namely, that loving God (with all our heart, mind and soul) as well as our neighbors as we would have truly loved ourselves! Moreover, we gain eternal life by loving God whom we encounter not only in the sacraments, in the Holy Eucharist, in the songs we sing this day, in the scriptures, but more importantly in how we visibly treat one another. Somebody sitting by your side. Somebody who needs help. Somebody, that man, that woman, that child we meet on our way- is my neighbor!
Deuteronomy 30:10-14, the first reading, which is generally a humanitarian sermon preached by Moses, on mount Nebo, tells us that this law, the love of God and our neighbor is written in our hearts. It is apriori. It is self-evidence. It is divine. It is written in our hearts. One does not need a college or a university degree to learn how to love, how to be merciful, how to be respectful, how to be compassionate to our next door neighbor, or somebody we meet in the train, in the school, in the work place, or in our churches.
Besides what is written in our hearts, which Moses, reminded Israel of his time of,... Saint Paul, in the second reading (Col 1:15-20) reminds the Colossians, by implication, each of us, that just as Jesus Christ is the “visible image of the invisible God,” so our neighbors (rich and poor, tall and short, white and black, brown and yellow, heavy and slim, young and old, male and female, boy and girl, Jews and Gentiles, N-S, E-W), are the visible image of Christ living in our midst. God speaks to us in our hearts. He speaks to us through Christ and through our neighbors.
This is what we mean when we sing that Matthew 25 "whatsoever you do to the least of my brethren so you do unto me..?" And this is truly what Jesus meant by telling that scribe, that professor of the law- the gospel parable of today, that familiar and popular parable of the Good Samaritan. In that parable, the Good Samaritan, unlike the other two uncharitable religious leaders (priest and Levi) went to the assistance of the man who was almost beaten to dead, and abandoned with fatal wounds, on the Jerusalem-Jericho road. What a beautiful way of reminding us that we can only truly say we love God by loving our neighbors, by behaving like the Good Samaritan- who responded with mercy and compassion to this robber’s victim.
It is true that no single person can solve all the world’s problems in all the continents: the poverty, the racism, the gun violence, the selfishness, the decline in Christian parenting, and the “you are on your own attitude.” Neither is God asking us to board a plane from (JFK etc)…. now to Jerusalem-Jericho road in Palestine to assist the robber victim. Not Necessarily! Rather, as believers, there is another road from Jerusalem to Jericho that passes right through our homes, parishes, our streets, our home towns, our neighborhoods, dioceses, schools, and work places. In these roads, there may be some spouses, children or parents lying emotionally wounded in our homes, due to one form of abuse, insults, violent or another! There may be a brother or a sister living nearby, sitting nearby, living next door who has special needs that we can meet. It could be a simple greeting or a smile! It could be a simple looking into their eyes, saying, hello!
Finally, the Good Samaritan challenges us today, especially in this Year of Mercy, to be open-minded to everyone, to be charitable, to be compassionate, to be forgiving, to be down to earth, to be approachable, to be available, to be loving, to be merciful to our neighbors, those in need, the church in need, that town in need, or to people of all walks of life- irrespective of color, height, race, culture and religion!