Rev. John A Sistare: Lessons from the Good Samaritan
July 8, 2001 -- 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
Luke 10: 25-37 (Good Samaritan)
It was a hot summer day in 1941 when the alarm sounded throughout a
concentration camp in Auschiwitz, Poland. One of the prisoners had escaped and,
as a result, cell-block 14 was called to stand at attention for three hours. The
following day the fugitive still had not been found so they stood in the
scorching heat once again. Finally, the Nazi troops decided to enact their
policy for escapees. Ten men were chosen form cell-block 14 to die for the one
who had escaped. One of these ten began to cry out, "Please, I have a family,
a wife, children, please not me." At that moment, another man, not from
among the ten but from that cell-block, stepped forward. Maximillian Kolbe
stepped forward and said, "I want to take this place of this man.' At
that a Nazi soldier said, "Who is this Polish pig?" Maximillian Kolbe
responded, "I am a Polish Catholic priest, I am old and want to take his
place." The Nazi soldier conceded and St. Maximillian Kolbe was
martyred, killed for the faith.
St. Maximillian Kolbe loved God totally and as a result loved his
neighbor. That is the message of the Gospel today. Love of God and love
of neighbor! The scholar, a lawyer of Jesus' day, tests Jesus. He asks how he
may gain eternal life? Jesus points the finger back at him and challenges him to
answer that question himself. The scholar answers correctly, "You shall love
God with all your mind, heart, strength, and soul, and neighbor as yourself."
Correct, congratulations, you are right! However, the scholar still has another
question. "Who is my neighbor?" At that point Jesus answers him as he
almost always does, with a story. The story of the good Samaritan shows us that
we are called to love God and neighbor.
The Levite and priest loved God. They were known to have worshipped in
the temple. However, did they love God with all their heart, mind, soul, and
strength? No way! If they did, they would never have walked by the helpless
victim on the side of the road. Thanks be to God there was the Good Samarian,
who loved God and loved neighbor.
Most people in today’s society profess to love God. Except for a small group
of atheists or some who are mad at God, most will say they love God. "I love
God, I love Jesus, oh sure." We even have some in the new age groups who
will claim to be gods. Ok, so most love God. However, do we love Him with all
our heart, mind, strength, and soul? Do we love our neighbor as ourselves?
Here comes the problem! Look at modern history alone. We haven't done
very well in this area. "Oh sure I love God, but can I own my neighbor?"
Slavery, racism, prejudice all treat others has less than human, lower than
ourselves. "Oh yea, I love God, but can I kill my neighbor." Nazi Germany
treating Jewish, Catholics, Christians and anyone else who stood in their way of
becoming the super race. Today, are we much better off? No way!
We still have a group of people who are being treated as lower or less
than human! The unborn, the most innocent of human beings are being killed in
the name of choice and rights. They are being told they aren't persons as
slaves, Jewish and many others have been told throughout history. I realize this
is a sensitive issue and many may say, "Oh Fr. Sistare, you shouldn't talk
about this." Unfortunately, there are priests like the one in our Gospel
today, who would rather walk on the other side of the road and neglect the cry
of the helpless victim. I am aware that many choose to not speak on this topic,
but not here! I and all of you must speak for these innocent children of God!
Perhaps I am preaching to the choir, but the choir must go forth and wake up
this world! No one has the right to declare that someone else isn't a person
because of their sex, race, religion, age or even size!!! We are called to love
God totally and love each and every one of our neighbors as ourselves.
Earlier we had the children's Mass and I decided to give them this same
message. First I asked them what was inside the womb or belly of a pregnant
women. They responded, "a baby!" Then I asked them, "are there people
who are bigger than you? Are there people smarter than you? Are there
people who are better basketball, soccer, and football players than you?"
They answered, "yes." Then I asked them, "Does that mean that all those
people are more important than you?" They responded, "No!" Thanks be
to God these children understood this principle! If they can understand this,
then all of us as adults and our world should be able to grasp this most basic
truth! Can you imagine if every Catholic or Christian understood this principle?
We would stop abortion tomorrow!!!
In closing, what better way to end than to draw your attention to the
Crucifix on the wall. You see, there is the answer to how much Jesus loves us!
There is the answer to how many people he loves! Jesus stretched out his arms
and said this is how much I love you and this how many people I love. I love
them all, each and every one regardless of sex, race, religion, age or size! May
we love God with all our heart, mind, strength, and soul and love our neighbor
as ourselves. May God Bless you all!
Fr. John Sistare is a member of Priests for Life from the Diocese of
Providence, Rhode Island.