Memorial of St. Francis Borgia, SJ
Jesus equips us with the necessary faith; even before our baptism the Father is drawing us to Him by the Spirit (John 6:44), and at our baptism we are given the virtues of faith, hope, and love. We are equipped not only for following Christ, for serving the Divine King, but to become “coheirs to eternal life” along with all the saint of heaven, as we hear in the prayers of the Mass (Eucharistic Prayer II). So how do we live out this faith, such that we inherit the life it promises?
Step One: Love God totally.
Step Two: Love your neighbor.
Though the scholar knows, intellectually, what one must do, He asks Jesus to define who, exactly, counts as our neighbor. Jesus then tells us the parable of the Good Samaritan, the outsider who shows great mercy to the robbers’ victim. Notice all that the Samaritan shows the victim; what do we see?
We see an example of someone loving their neighbor with all his heart (compassion), with all his being (drawing near, touching, treating, caring, paying), with all his strength (lifting him up), and with all his mind (considering even his future needs). In other words, the Samaritan showed the poor victim the same level of love which we ought to have for God. Jesus puts it best when He says, “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Matt. 25:40)
But Jesus is not answering the scholar’s question: “And who is my neighbor?” Rather, Jesus asks at the end of the parable, “Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robber’s victim?” Instead of limiting our Christian imagination to a strict definition of who or who is not our neighbor—as the scholar was wanting—Jesus defines who we must be to everyone we encounter. For each and every person is a victim of the robber—Satan—and we are all wounded, broken, and robbed by his temptations and our own sin. Instead of concerning ourselves with who we ought to help and who we are permitted to leave on the roadside, it is we who must be neighborly, who best show our total love for God by loving our neighbor as God has loved us.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” God, in Christ, has loved us with His whole heart, being, strength, and mind, and He asks that we love others in the same manner. God has showed Himself our neighbor and now we, as His disciples, must “Go and do likewise.”