“Being ‘The Good Samaritan’, By Lisa Valentino, Fiat Ventures

ATLANTIC CITY, NJ – MISSION JERSEY 2019 : Images from the a group of team members of the Mission Jersey squad serving lunch at the Atlantic City Mission on July 30, 2019.

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

This past week as I have done many times before over the last 10 years I had an opportunity to be a part of Catholic Heart Workcamp with teens from my parish and all over the country. It is a week where teens go to serve those that they have never met before. Whether we serve at a soup kitchen or paint the home of an elderly person or build a ramp or deck, it is an act of love and a way to make the world a better place. At this week of service which this year was in Bridgeport, CT we put others before ourselves and followed the Gospel message that Jesus talks about this Sunday; “loving our neighbor as ourselves.” And being “The Good Samaritan.”

Jesus tells us the story of a lawyer essentially, who tests Jesus by asking Him what he must do to inherit eternal life? Jesus tells him and then proceeds to tell the story of the Good Samaritan who rescues a man who was victim of a robbery and was left beaten and half dead. Many people passed this man and did nothing to help. However a Samaritan traveler comes upon him and is moved with compassion. He takes the time to care for the man and tend to his wounds. He also takes him to an inn and has the innkeeper “take care of him” until his return. This Gospel is one we have all heard many times, but do we understand fully what Jesus is telling us in this Gospel?

You see, a neighbor is not just the person who lives next door to us, but anyone in need of care and someone we should be concerned about. This was lived out at workcamp last week in a real way. All of these people that we did not know, but who we were concerned about and who needed care. This is what it means to love God, to make anyone who needs our help into our neighbor! This does not mean that we just physically care for them, but that we also are present and love those who are in need and injured in any way. In that act of love and concern, we become “The Good Samaritan”.

Something amazing happens when we live out this Gospel message, we receive so much more than we give. At workcamp we heard over and over again from the people we served how these simple acts of caring, having concern for others and physically doing the work gave people hope and brought joy and love into their lives. In turn, it brought all of us  at camp great joy and hope!

This Gospel is about so much more than loving the person who lives next door to us, it really is about loving the Lord our God with all of our heart and being and strength, which leads to loving our neighbors as we love ourselves. It’s about a concrete love in which we think of others before ourselves and do our best to help all we see that are in need.

We are called to be the Samaritan, the one who has courage to help, the one who sacrifices to help those in need, the one who does not walk away saying someone else can do it, why me? As Jesus so clearly tells us and that lawyer, it is that Samaritan who will inherit eternal life. I might also add, that as I witnessed firsthand last week, it is the Samaritan who changes the world and makes it a better place to live in!

It is my hope that we all can live out the quote from our holy Father Pope Francis; “Like the Good Samaritan, may we not be ashamed of touching the wounds of those who suffer, but try to heal them with concrete acts of love.”

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