Wisdom Reflections: GO FORTH; BE GOOD NEWS

Sr. Barbara O’Dea, DW

Every spiritual journey begins with an encounter with God. To recognize God’s presence, we need to be “all ears” to his word. Deuteronomy tells us that the voice of the Lord is something very near to us, . . .  in our hearts. We have only to carry it out. Are you ready for the encounter?

Today we meet Jesus speaking to a crowd. A scholar, a specialist in the Law, stands up and asks: Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life? Jesus answers him with a question: What is written in the Law? How do you read it?”  The man’s answer is perfect – love God . . . love your neighbor. . . . Obviously, he already knew the answer. Jesus simply agrees. So, what’s the point? The scholar wants to defend himself; he asks a second question: Who is my neighbor? That’s the real question. The lawyer knew the words, but he didn’t get their meaning.

Jesus answers, as he often does, by telling a story. Yes, but a special kind of story; it is not a fairy tale, nor a historical event, it is a parable, a story that digs deep to reveal the meaning of this Word of God. We all know the story of the Good Samaritan, or do we? Today we are invited to let it resonate deep inside ourselves, to plumb the depths of its meaning. Listen, find yourself in the scene.

First, we hear of a man who has been attacked by robbers. They beat him up, strip him of everything, and leave him on the road to die. Enter two men passing by, one a priest, the other, a Levite. Each saw the man’s plight and fled the scene. Another traveler arrives, a Samaritan, a heretic. He is horrified. He stops, pours oil and wine on the wounds and bandages them. He doesn’t stop there. He lifts the man and takes him to an inn. There he cares for him and pays for his stay. When he can do no more, he makes a deal with the innkeeper to continue his care and promises to come back to pay all expenses. Compassion begets compassion. The innkeeper trusts the Samaritan he does not know, believes what he says and does his part. Do you get the point? The scholar did. When Jesus asked him who was neighbor to the wounded man, he replies, the one who treated him with mercy. A true neighbor is one who acts, who serves a neighbor in need.

Now fast forward to our times. Christ confides his mission to his followers in every age.  Faithful to his promise, at baptism, He gifts us with the priceless gift of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us. It is the Spirit who prods us to wake up. We need only to open our eyes to see neighbors-in-need hidden in plain sight - in our workplaces and parish, in our neighborhoods and at our borders. The Spirit of Christ challenges us to action – to be his presence as we serve the neighbor in need.

The faith we are called to witness is faith-in-action. Think of those “others” who have touched your life deeply, who inspired to be a better person. Then, be Good News! Others witness how you live and what you do. Listen to the voice of the Spirit within you. Use your gifts to enrich their lives. The good you do lives on, your life story is the legacy you leave to others.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash