A Catholic priest since 1997, Fr. Andrew Ricci is currently the rector of the Cathedral of Christ the King in Superior, WI. His website "Three Great Things" can be found at studyprayserve.com and his podcasts can be found under "Catholic Inspiration" in the iTunes store.
The call of the twelve Apostles reveals the personal connection Jesus has with his disciples. Called by name (with their own unique strengths and weaknesses) the Lord will empower them to serve in his name. The Lord does the same for us!
Matthew’s Gospel shows how the Lord was moved with pity as he gazed on the people who were troubled and abandoned. The mercy of Christ consoles us to draw near to God with open hearts, even as it challenges us to look at one another (especially those who push our buttons!) with the love of the Lord.
The story of the Good Samaritan takes many of us back to our elementary school days of religious education. It’s worth taking a moment to examine the structure of the context within which the parable is located in chapter ten of Luke’s Gospel:
v. 25 – The lawyer’s question
v. 26 – Jesus’ counter-question
v. 27 – The lawyer’s response
v. 28 – Jesus’ imperative & command
v. 29 – The lawyer’s 2nd question
v. 30-36 – The Good Samaritan parable
v. 37a – The lawyer’s response
v. 38b – Jesus’ imperative & command
The first half of this passage pertains to the notion of eternal life and what we must do – loving God and one another. This is a recap of the two Great Commandments, and we all generally nod our heads in agreement at the lawyer’s answer.
The second half, however, pushes the question “Who is my neighbor?” as Jesus uses the parable to point out that all people – regardless of race, color, religion – are our neighbor. Remember: the Samaritan is not Jewish, yet fulfills the command of loving the neighbor!
The takeaway for us today happens on many levels:
Our words and actions define us – especially when we are in challenging situations.
Who are the people in my life that are difficult to love?
How might I take steps to love these “neighbors” God sets before me?
While there are many ways to demonstrate our love for the Lord, a clear example occurs when we act in kind and merciful ways toward one another. May see clearly our neighbors and respond to their needs with the love of Jesus Christ.
Jesus empowers 72 disciples to go in pairs and continue his mission of preaching, healing and driving out evil. Facing opposition and hostility they return rejoicing at the power of God at work in their lives. May we be inspired to follow their example!
Throughout our lives there are many spiritual lessons to be learned. Whether it’s repentance or rejoicing, suffering or celebration, fasting or feasting. God calls us to discern what we need today…and then ask the Lord for the grace to respond.
The man brought to Jesus was healed of his affliction and forgiven of his sins. God longs to heal and restore our lives, and even when we are unable to initiate the process the Lord brings people around us to make his grace possible.