“You shall love the Lord, your God
with all your heart, with all your being,
with all your strength, and with all your mind,
and your neighbor as yourself.”
From Sunday’s Gospel of Luke 10:25-37
The scholar of the law’s response to his own question asking what must be done to inherit eternal life combines two commandments from the Old Testament: Deuteronomy 6:5, the first three lines, and Leviticus 19:18, the last line. In the first passage form Deuteronomy, the scholar adds the fourth element “your whole mind”. Jesus himself had combined these two commandments in Matthew 22:37 and Mark 12:30 when asked what was the greatest commandment. [Sacra Pagina, The Gospel of Luke] The combining of these two commandments reminds us that we cannot solely focus on either loving God wholeheartedly or doing great social works to help others, but are called to do both.
The scholar of the law pushes Jesus further in verse 29 by asking “But who is my neighbor?” Therein follows the parable of the Good Samaritan that we know well: the priest and Levite, who should have had the sensibility to help the ailing man on the roadway, walked on by, while someone who was not looked upon highly, the Samaritan, treated the stranger as neighbor. As we are called to live out God’s greatest commandment by treating others with mercy, I reflect on how all of the saints did this in their own way. Whether it was St. Francis who moved with compassion kissed a leper and gave away his coat to a stranger, or Saint and Sister Marianne Cope whose religious order the Sisters of St. Francis of Syracuse, New York, was the only one to respond to another saint’s, St. Damien De Vuester, request to have an order of sisters help with his work with those with Hansen’s disease in the island of Molokai in Hawaii, those elevated to sainthood lived lives that embodied both commandments. May we too love God without reserve and be prepared to stop and help someone in need rather than walk on by.
I would like to thank the parish staff, Women's Guild, Knights of Columbus and Guadalupanas who hosted the welcoming receptions after each Mass this past weekend and all the parishioners who took the time to say hello to me. I am overwhelmed by your kindness and look forward to, in time because there are a lot of you, getting to know you, the people of St. Mark’s, as we journey together in sharing the good news in word and action.