Moses said to the people:
"If only you would heed the voice of the LORD, your God, by observing his commandments and decrees that are written in this book of the law, because you turn to the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
Surely, this commandment that I am commanding you today is not too hard for you, nor is it too far away. It is not in heaven, that you should say, “Who will go up to heaven for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?” Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, “Who will cross to the other side of the sea for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?” No, the word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart for you to observe.
Psalm 69:13, 16, 29-30, 32-33, 35-36
But as for me, my prayer is to you, O LORD.
At an acceptable time, O God,
in the abundance of your steadfast love, answer me.
With your faithful help
Answer me, O LORD, for your steadfast love is good;
according to your abundant mercy, turn to me.
But I am lowly and in pain;
let your salvation, O God, protect me.
I will praise the name of God with a song;
I will magnify him with thanksgiving.
Let the oppressed see it and be glad;
you who seek God, let your hearts revive.
For the LORD hears the needy,
and does not despise his own that are in bonds.
For God will save Zion
and rebuild the cities of Judah;
and his servants shall live there and possess it;
the children of his servants shall inherit it,
and those who love his name shall live in it.
Christ Jesus is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.
Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.”
But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’ Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
Today’s Gospel examines our relationship with the brotherhood of humanity. The neighbor Jesus describes is anyone we may encounter and we are asked to help when we see a need that cannot be met. The parable gives us an example we can all relate to in the man who fell into the hands of robbers.
Imagine lying on the side of the road after being attacked and robbed. You can’t move. You can’t help yourself or even cry out for help. You think you are going to die. You are in desperate need of someone to notice you and come to your aid.
Someone comes to you. You were never introduced. You have no mutual friends. You can’t even ask for help. He has nothing to gain by helping you. But he picks you up and tends your wounds. He takes you to a shelter and he feeds you and pays for your care. You can’t pay him back. He did it for no better reason than that you are a human being. And because you receive them freely, you know love and you know God in His goodness.
We see the corporal works of mercy in this parable. The Good Samaritan fed the man, gave him drink, clothed him, sheltered him, cared for him, and visited him.
When we have fallen, or when we need aid in walking, eating, being clothed or housed, or are short on money, and someone helps us receive these things, we receive not merely things. We receive something much greater: love.
When Jesus went to the cross, making reparation for our sins, he saw no mercy. It was the hour of darkness or anti-mercy as he was imprisoned, starved and tortured. He was given vinegar to drink when he thirsted, was stripped of his clothes. He had no tomb. He was afflicted, not comforted, mocked, bruised, spat upon… and finally, completely consumed on the cross, giving his all and defeating the malice of Satan.
Jesus freed us from the judgment that would keep us from eternal life. Though we should expect no reward for it in this life, our mission is to keep demonstrating the love of God, by being the hands of God, doing to others what we would want done to us. When we do these things, we are becoming a part of his body. We are being one in love with him.