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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Who Is My Neighbor?

Homily – 15th Sunday ordinary Time Year C
Deu. 30:10-14, Col 1:15-20, Luke 19:25-37

In the time of Jesus, the rabbis determined that there were 613 separate laws in the five books of Moses, and they believed that if they could fulfill them all, God would grant them eternal life.

Quite a daunting task, because just to know and understand those laws, one would need a lifetime of study.

And, if this were true for the highly educated rabbis, what about the common folk who couldn’t even read and write?

And so, the Hebrew teachers set out to identify which laws were the greatest: which laws summed up the entire Mosaic code, so that if one were to fulfill those particular laws, one would fulfill them all.

It was a question that was posed to Jesus probably on several occasions, because he was seen as a great rabbi himself, and here, when he was challenged by a scholar of the law, he returns the question and asks the man his opinion.

Thus we learn that the law of God can be summed up in two commands:

You shall love the Lord God with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind.

And to love your neighbor as yourself.

Love of God and love of neighbor contain all the Laws of the Prophets, and if we do this, we will have life.


Because if we love God perfectly, with our whole being, we will fulfill our whole duty toward others by recognizing in everyone we meet a person equal in dignity to ourselves, created in God’s image, redeemed by the blood of His only son.

We would never want to harm such persons, and we would always seek to help them in their need.

But the scholar is not satisfied with this answer and wants to engage Jesus in a rabbinical debate, he interrogates Him further, questioning “And who is my neighbor? Who am I obligated to Love?”

The question is the same question that we should be asking of ourselves.

Who is my neighbor? Who must I show Love, Care, Compassion, and Forgiveness? Who must I show Unconditional Friendship?

As an unsigned Check is of no value to us, Charity (Good Thoughts) without action towards our neighbor is also of no value. Good thoughts without action will not accumulate treasures in heaven.

Today let us look at some of our neighbors and our obligations toward them.

1.    First of all, let’s look at the obligation of Parents and Godparents to raise their children in the sound doctrines of the Catholic faith.

Today, many churches no longer enjoy the presence of children of all ages because the parents let their children decide for themselves what they want to do – go to Mass, or stay home.

This attitude of spiritual freedom is a betrayal of God’s gift of little souls to parents.

When God entrusted the parents with the souls of newborns, it was with the expectation that the parents would teach their children to adore God on a daily basis, to desire to be in His presence, and to learn right from wrong.

And when Godparents stood in the presence of God and the church on behalf of the newborn children, they personally committed themselves to ensure that the children they sponsored would be raised in the catholic faith.

What happened to that commitment?

2.    Let us also consider the situation of the homeless.

There are many here in our communities who are found sleeping in parks, behind stores, and along the river.

Where are the Catholics who are reaching out to them?

How many of us have personally helped them to wash themselves, do their laundry, give them extra clothing, or even a little food to sustain them for even a few days, or do we rationalize an excuse?

3.    What about those who are hungry?

Are we reaching out to support anonymously the large families by proving them with a little extra food?

Are we reaching out to those who are out of work, those who just don’t have the means to meet their basic needs?

What about the seniors around us?

Do we as Catholics perceive the loneliness that many elders are experiencing?

Some have been abandoned by their children who have moved to other cities, others are unable to reach out and socialize because of their old age or their ill health.

Trapped in solitude, they pray that someone would show care towards them, that someone would maybe take them once in a while to the park.

What is our response to the need of these seniors?

Is anyone offering to drive them to Mass on Sundays so they can fulfill their weekly obligation that means so much to them?

Is anyone making arrangements so they can receive the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist if they are bed bound?

5.    What about the persecuted?

Do we speak up when we see someone bullied?

Do we speak up when we hear of prejudice?

Do we speak up when we see minors showing disrespect towards elders?

Do we speak up when we hear others gossip and destroy reputations?

6.    What about the prisoners, are they not also our neighbors?

Yes, even if we do not want to hear about it, the prisoners are also our neighbors.

Believe it or not, that includes the murderers, the rapists, and the child molesters.

To exclude these Catholics as our neighbors, it is to be dishonest to ourselves by rejecting the message of our Lord Jesus Christ.

If we neglect the salvation of these souls by refusing to share the gospel of Christ with them, who then will bring them the good news of the kingdom of God?

7.    What about the prostitutes on the streets, some of them being so young that it is shameful to just think about it.

And if you think this isn’t a problem in our community, you have been misinformed.

Who is reaching out to these young girls?

Are we ready to help those girls who have run away from home for whatever reason?

How many of them were raped before they turned to prostitution?

How many of them are selling their bodies because their pimps are providing them with food, shelter, and false love?

Is it so hard for us to reach out to them, to open our homes to them, to help them return to school so they can finish their education?

8.    How about the single parents and widows who must bear the burden alone of raising their children?

Are we there for them as Good Samaritans?

Are we offering our services as babysitters so they can get an hour off here and there?

Are we offering assistance with cooking or housecleaning?

If these parents hold a job, do we wholeheartedly offer our services to baby-sit their children when they are sick and must stay home from school or do we just say “It is their problem.”

9. And finally, what about all these young girls who are considering an abortion?

Are we there for them?

Are we there to help them through their pregnancy?

Are we ready to commit ourselves to help them raise their child?

Are we willing to walk that extra mile to save an unborn child and the soul of its mother?

My brothers and sisters in Christ, many are the needs of our neighbors. What I have mentioned is only but a short list of neighborly needs.

So once again the question; “who is my neighbor?”

My neighbor is the one who needs my friendship.

The Lord God commanded us to observe His commandments and decrees with all our heart, and all our soul, including loving our neighbor.

Our Neighbors are all around us, and the message is clear, our Christian obligation consists of:

Raising our Children in the faith
Providing for the Homeless
Feeding the Hungry
Caring for the Immigrants
Tending to Seniors
Adopting the Orphans
Defending the Persecuted
Bringing the Gospel to Prisoners
Reaching out to the Prostitutes, the Drug Addicts, and the Sinners

These are our neighbors, my neighbors, your neighbors.

What we do for them, we do for the Lord Jesus.

By reaching out to those in need, we reach out to Christ.

By refusing to extend our friendship to those in need, we are refusing our friendship to Christ.

In closing, I have one final question for all of us:

When we die and meet Jesus face to face……

Will He say…. “Welcome, my good and faithful servant, you have served me well in your acts upon my children, come and live with me forever”


Will He say…. “Who are you…… neither I, nor my Children recognize who you are.”

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