Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (July 14, 2019)

In today’s second reading, St. Paul tells us that Jesus was first in the mind of God when he created the universe.

God decided to unite himself with creation in the person of Jesus. Everything has been created through Jesus and for Jesus. And Jesus has reconciled everything to God through his blood shed on the cross. Jesus is the image of the invisible God; because Jesus has shared our human life, every human person has dignity as an image of God.

That is why it is so important that we understand today’s Gospel parable. Jesus is telling us how we are to live as an image of God - loving God with our whole being, and loving our neighbor as we love ourselves.

The parable we have just heard is meant to shock us into realizing the extent to which we are to love. Because we all share the dignity of image of God, we are to love as God loves. There is to be no limit to our love. “Neighbor” is a way of acting, and not a person located outside of us. “Neighbor,” then, is the way I treat anyone I meet - whether I know them or not, whether I like them or not, whether I consider them friend or foe.

Jesus’ point is made when the lawyer identifies the Samaritan as the “neighbor” in the parable – “The one who treated the injured stranger with compassion.” Like the lawyer in the Gospel, all of us ask: “What must I do to inherit everlasting life?” Jesus tells us: “Go and do the same.”

The challenge is great. It calls us to be mindful each day that “I am the image of God and I am called to love today as God loves.” The law of love is written on our hearts from our very creation as an image of God. The more my heart beats with the love of God, the more I will strive to be neighbor to everyone who crosses my path each day.

Each person I meet calls me to be the best person I can be - to image to them as the love of the God who loves them. That’s enough challenge for any of us. Trying to meet that challenge each day will assure us of our inheritance - everlasting life with our God. Let us be renewed at this Eucharist and go forth to be compassionate neighbor today.