15th Sunday in Ordinary Time (July 14, 2013)

Andre House, Phoenix

This week’s Readings

Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan in Sunday’s Gospel kinda hits home. Recall the story: a man was beaten, robbed and left by the roadside. Two pious Jews passed by, refusing to help out. A Samaritan – a despised foreigner – was the only one who stopped and helped and in addition, provided aftercare for the beaten man.

Here in South Bend, there are two street corners where one will inevitably find men (and sometimes a woman) holding up a cardboard sign asking for help or for a job. The reasons vary: homelessness, paying the rent, taking care of two children, a vet in need of help, etc. There’s even one guy who sits in a white plastic chair with a cooler at his side … I’ve never been able to make out what his sign says! A local TV station did two investigations a year apart, and in every case but one reported that it was panhandling. The people disappear for awhile after those reports, but new faces appear sooner or later. Google or Bing “Panhandling in South Bend IN” and you’ll find a link to the reports.

I think of the Good Samaritan story every time I see one of these folks. What does Jesus’ story tell us about true love for one’s neighbor? First, we must be willing to help even if others brought trouble on themselves through their own fault or negligence. Second, our love and concern to help others in need must be practical. Good intentions and showing pity, or empathizing with others, are not enough. And lastly, our love for others must be as wide and as inclusive as God’s love. God excludes no one from his care and concern. So we must be ready to do good to others for their sake, just as God is good to us.

But what if – as the investigations report – the people are frauds? How does one discern? Jesus would probably say “So what if they are!?!” But my head and heart rebel against that. Lord, help us all.

Much love … many prayers!

herb yost reflections

Fr. Herb, C.S.C.

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