Reflection on 15th Sunday: 10-July-2022

The first ‘neighbour’ that we must love is our self

When reflecting on gospel stories we are often encouraged to imagine ourselves as each character in the story. ‘A good place for all of us to start on our journey of learning how to love our neighbour with great love, is to see ourselves first of all as that wounded person dying on the road.’1 ‘Notice that he is the only character in the story not defined by profession, social class, or religious belief. He has no identity at all except his naked need.’2 ‘Before we can love others with any genuine compassion, we need to experience being loved by God, the most loving and Good Samaritan. At different times in our lives, we face situations which make us feel wounded and dying and desperate for some help. We long for restoration and wholeness. There is a great temptation to flee from the reality of our human condition. Denial and avoidance are our unconscious ‘priest’ and ‘Levite’, protecting ourselves from getting too close to our own pain and brokenness.

It is important to be gentle and courteous enough to accept and face up to the ‘woundedness’ deep within our psyche and spirit rather than pretend it does not exist by attempting to rearrange our lives in such a way that this darkness remains hidden. There it will fester and govern our lives at an unconscious level – until it eventually surfaces in another form. Difficult life situations are unwelcome intrusions into our lives but they can be what God uses to awaken that inner desire for deep healing and comfort for our wounded inner self.’1

‘The first ‘neighbour’ that we must love is our self, by surrendering to Love, by allowing God to see our woundedness, to see and love us as we really are rather than what we ideally wish to be. We will then want to give others this same experience of divine love, of being looked upon tenderly in their woundedness, be it physical, emotional or psychological. We will want to reach out to our neighbour with compassion, notice his/her wounds and touch them with gentleness.’3 ‘We will want to help others surrender themselves over to God infinitely in love with us and our unresolved matters and our fragility. God loves us wherever we are at.’4

Adapted: [1]
[2] Debie Thomas:Journey with Jesus
[3] Cynthia Bourgeault
[4]James Finley

Gospel Luke 10:25-37

There was a lawyer who, to disconcert Jesus, stood up and said to him, ‘Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ He said to him, ‘What is written in the law? What do you read there?’ He replied, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself.’ ‘You have answered right,’ said Jesus, ‘do this and life is yours.’

But the man was anxious to justify himself and said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbour?’ Jesus replied, ‘A man was once on his way down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell into the hands of brigands; they took all he had, beat him and then made off, leaving him half dead. Now a priest happened to be travelling down the same road, but when he saw the man, he passed by one the other side. In the same way a Levite who came to the place saw him, and passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan traveller who came upon him was moved with compassion when he saw him. He went up and bandaged his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them. He then lifted him onto his own mount, carried him to the inn and looked after him. Next day he took out to denarii and handed them to the innkeeper. “Look after him”, he said, “and on my way back I will make good any extra expense you have.” Which of these three, do you think, proved himself a neighbour to the man who fell into the brigands’ hands?’ ‘The one who took pity on him’ he replied. Jesus said to him, ‘Go, and do the same yourself.’