Bottom line: When it comes to imitating the Good Samaritan, we all have a long way to go, but today we hear Jesus' encouraging words, "Go and do likewise."
This Summer I have been cleaning up the office and I noticed a box on one of the shelves. When I opened it - to my surprise - it contained three eggs and ten one-dollar-bills. I asked Sr. Barbara about it. She seemed a little embarrassed, but then told me that every time I gave a bad homily, she put an egg into the box. "Well," I said, "I guess I am doing OK. I've probably given well over a hundred homilies and only three eggs for bad homilies."
Then I asked her about the ten one-dollar-bills. She swallowed and said, "Every time I got together a dozen eggs, I sold them to the poor for a dollar!"
The moral of the story is that we may not always be doing as well as we think. That was certainly the case with the priest and Levite in today's Gospel. They thought they were doing great, but they missed the mark.
Something similar can happen with you and me. We can think that we are being very compassionate and loving, but fail to effectively help the person in need. Jesus praised the Samaritan because he helped the other in way that really made a difference. It's one thing to give a dollar to a guy standing at an intersection. It is quite something else to do the work of a St. Vincent de Paul Society member. They spend time talking with the poor, finding out their real need and getting them connected to the right resources.
When I was in Peru, I reflected on how best to help the poor. It became clear that one of the root causes of poverty was family breakdown. With the help of some lay missionaries and Peruvian professionals, I founded a center to strenghten families. We named it after my mom - the Mary Bloom Center - in recognition of her commitment to marriage, family and children.
I am not saying I am any shining example of a Good Samaritan. I have to examine my conscience every day. I can wind up caring about people who are far away, but maybe neglect or not treat so well the people right in front of me. Each day I need to hear Jesus' words, "Go and do likewise."
I want to mention one other group of people who are near us, but whom we often neglect: Our departed loved ones. At funerals I hear people say they will always remember the person who died. But I wonder if they really do. Do they visit that person's grave? Do they pray for him at Mass?
This month of July, I have asked you to join in a special project remembrance: Healing the Family Tree. If your parents or grandparents have died, I ask you to write their name on an envelope and place it in the collection. If they are alive, write names of other ancestors or loved ones who have died. All the names will go into a capsule at the base of the rectory Shrine of Our Lady.
As Christians our solidarity extends to every person in the world - and to every person in the Communion of Saints, which includes the souls in Purgatory. Now is a good moment to remember them and to pray for them. In doing so, you will experience healing - healing of the family tree.
When it comes to imitating the Good Samaritan, we all have a long way to go. But today we hear Jesus' encouraging words, "Go and do likewise."
From Archives (15th Sunday, Year C):
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Bulletin (St. Mary's Parish)
My bulletin column
St. Mary of the Valley Album
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