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  • Notes from your Pastor

    Today’s gospel on the Good Samaritan would be a good perspective for our country during these times of emotional upheaval and civil unrest.  Our thoughts and prayers go towards the five police officers who were killed in Dallas as well as to their families and department.  Also, we pray for the men who were killed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Falcon Heights, Minnesota and their families as well.  Our TV screens are filled with protesters. The gospel can provide a clue on how we as individuals and as a nation should respond.
     
    There was a long history of religious animosity between the Jews and the Samaritans.  The value system of the day thought of people as being either insiders-fellow Jews or outsiders-Gentiles or foreigners.
     
    How exactly were Jews to react to outsiders?  The law specified obligations to fellow Jews.  What about obligations to foreigners?  This was an important question from the lawyer who faced Jesus.  In the lawyer’s mind, the law had already described a “neighbor” as a fellow Jew.  Yet, this belief was now in question.  So what would Jesus say?
     
    Jesus did not begin the parable with the normal group of three Jews – a priest,      a Levite and an Israelite.  This was a common way of referring to all believers in God.  Jesus upset this group of three and startled his listeners when instead He referred to a priest who performs temple services, a Levite who belongs to the priestly class but does not perform temple service and a Samaritan who was a despised foreigner.
     
    We have a man lying on the road.  The priest and the Levite were in a bind.  If the injured man were in fact dead and they touched him, by the law they would be ritually impure and unable to perform their duties.  Also, it was a common trick of robbers to have a decoy play dead to lure a kindhearted traveler.  If the injured man was indeed a neighbor, that is, a fellow Jew then the law obligated the priest and Levite to render aid.  Although it is hard for us to grasp, Jesus’ listeners would have sympathized with the decision of both the priest and the Levite to walk past the injured man.  Yet the despised Samaritan did offer mercy and compassion.
     
    Making the Samaritan the hero of the story would have rattles Jesus’ listeners.  What Jesus did was to change the perspective of the lawyer’s question and consequently, teach us about connecting the First Great Commandment – Love God with the Second – Love of Neighbor.  The lawyer was asking about who he is obligate to treat like a neighbor, just Jews or others as well.  Jesus however asks “Who has acted like a neighbor?”
     
    The priest and the Levite did not have to stop and render aid to the man on the road.  Neither did the Samaritan, but he did.  The Samaritan did something he did not have to do.  He practiced charity, offering compassion and mercy.  Jesus therefore changed the lawyer’s question from “Who is my neighbor?” to a question for us “How am I to be a neighbor?”  This is the question that should be debated.    
     
    The parable is even more provocative as Jesus shows that Love of God does not automatically guarantee love of neighbor.  The priest and Levite, ones who clearly identified themselves as loving God, failed in their love of neighbor.  Someone who had been defined by his ethnic and religious difference was the only one who had acted as a neighbor.  Jesus overturns a common way of thinking as He gives us a lesson in charity.  Charity or its root in the Scriptures is usually defined as Love and in fact, charity is an act of love.  But charity is a particular act of love.  It is to do something when we do not have to do it.
     
    Jesus’ listeners, who would have excused the priest and Levite, knew in their hearts that the beaten man needed attention.  They too would have felt caught between the law and their hearts, but they would have known the right thing to do despite the usual interpretation of the law.  Namely that only fellow Jews were neighbors who must be helped.  There are no details on the injured man.  We do not know if he was a Jew or not.  Jesus’ attention is on who takes care of the man, the one who acted like a neighbor.
     
    It is not a question of “Who is my neighbor?”  It is a question of “How am I to be a neighbor?”  That means how am I treating others with compassion and charity?  If everyone adopted that perspective it would be a wonderful point of view.  That is a possible answer to stop the violence in our country.  What if the starting point was understanding and making a compassionate response to everyone?
     
    Let us pray for ourselves and our country that we can act as neighbors towards one another.
     
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  • Sick & Hospitalized

     

       Let us remember in our prayers those who are sick.  May they and their caregivers receive comfort and strength.  Remembering especially
    Mary Adams, Agnes Bartoszek,
    Greg Basco, Gwen Beres, Bill Bican,
    Mary Ann Betliskey, Joyce Bican,
    Phillip Bilelo, Corrine Dawe,
    Lucy Nieves DelValle, Jose Dybzinski,
    Mary Gurcze, Kristin Hill,
    Florence Holecek, Lucy Konkoly,
    Tom Konkoly, Judy Landolph,
    John Limber, Pat Lubrano, Art Madsen,
    Cindi Magyar, Marguerite Miller, Jeannette Morrow, Dan Palmentera, Suzanne Patton, John Pocius, Betty Rhine, Brianna Rhine, Elaine Stack,
    Rev. John Tezie, Janice Tommer,
    Ron Walk, David Zelenka & Joseph Zelenka.
     
         May Our Loved Ones who have died rest in eternal peace in heaven.
     
         For the Men and Women serving in the military, especially those from our parish and their families.