Updated: Aug 6, 2019
We listen to this weekend’s Gospel that details Jesus’ commandment on love. This is not a new teaching by any stretch. However, it is given a new twist when love of neighbour is elevated to the same status as love of God. The parable of the Good Samaritan reminds us that God is the master reverser of roles. Those hearing this story for the first time would have certainly been caught off guard when they heard that the Samaritan is the hero. Those whom we least expect are the ones who often do the will of God the most. Saint or sinner, we all receive the same abundance of God’s mercy. God’s mercy, as with God’s love, is at the core of who we are. We cannot merit it, increase it, or escape it. It is simply there.
All of creation is on fire with God’s presence. St. Francis knew this so very well. It is for this reason that he shared such an intimate connection with all people and things and shared with them a familiar relationship. It was his firm conviction in and knowledge of God’s love within that gave him the courage to persevere, a reason to hope, a cause for faith, and an inexhaustible ability to love. Francis knew exactly who his neighbour was and responded without hesitation.
All that being said, loving our neighbour is not meant to be easy. It is messy, confusing, conflicting, sticky, and uncertain. What we often discern to be the best for the person in front of us may not actually be what is most beneficial at the end of the day. We bring ourselves dimly through life, relying solely on the light of Christ to enlighten our way. When we need guidance, support, and direction, the Lord and the community of the church are always there. May we always listen to new and more effective ways we can listen and respond to the needs of our neighbour. St. Francis of Assisi, be our inspiration and our guide!