Will I ever fit in with the “the crowd”? From an early age I have been a misfit. I’m an eccentric nonconformist; I identified with Andy Rooney of CBS Sixty Minutes. My surrogate nephew wrote a column in USC’s Daily Trojan newspaper titled: Un-common Sense. Un-common usually makes sense to me. Often I favor a “Copernican Revolution” or “paradigm shift.” I don’t fret too much; Jesus didn’t fit in with his own kind either. I realized long ago that I am not Jesus!
I believe more Christians are influenced by the Great Last Judgment of St. Matthew’s Gospel chapter 25; “when did we see you hungry, or without, and not help you?” than they are in today’s Gospel teaching, the Good Samaritan, “who is the neighbor?”.
I suggest a paradigm shift. What if...what if...the Good Samaritan was presented as the role model for what it means to be a Christian and Christians were told to “go and do likewise”?
Jesus is direct in Matthew’s scene. His motivation is for people to share their resources. Isn’t sharing expected of all people? Easily enough, giving to others becomes a “drop off and leave” effort. “If I just put some stuff into the collection bin, I’m a successful Christian on my way to heaven.” Guilt for not sharing is wiped clean without any human encounter.
The Good Samaritan changes the model. It says: “Being a neighbor means spending time with the one who is suffering. Care for the other.” Empathy, compassion, and interaction is the key to healing. It seems as though there is only one command: “Be kind.”
“Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Another way of asking: “What must I do to be a successful Christian?”
“Success” is another loaded word. “Be successful” you were taught. Who took the time to define what success actually means? Ponder: “What does success really mean to you and to our community?”
“Achieving goals.” Specifically, what are those goals? Are you trying to achieve vague goals?
Here’s today’s goal: Everlasting life. How do you achieve it?
Being like Christ is the single goal of every Christian community and its school. Friends, our Christian schools are successful when its graduates imitate Jesus Christ. Our communities are successful when a neighbor is treated with kindness. Handshakes and smiles, good cheer and laughter make for good neighbors!
In your kindness (charity) sit with the one who is called “outcast”, “nerd”, “misfit”, or whatever the new word for “loser” is today. By being a friend you become a mentor, role model, you might be preventing crime or a suicide. By inviting someone to eat with you, you’ve made a community. The epistle to the Hebrews says, “Do not forget to entertain strange people, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.” Psst: never insult an angel.
Won’t you welcome someone at a door today? If not now, when? Be un-common here, within the St. Juliana’s Catholic Community. Then go and continue to spread Good News to everyone. How successful will you be? You are limited only by your kindness to a neighbor.
This evening welcome Bishop Tim Freyer! Enjoy a meal and conversation with the Bishop following the 5:00PM Mass which he will celebrate. This is the first of Faith, family, and food Sundays provided through PSA funds. Come, y’all! Bring the neighbors!
I know several of you have gotten spam emails and text messages associated with my name. These are not from me – do not contribute to their nonsense. Several pastors are victims of this fraud.