“And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself” (Luke 10:27).
The month of July falls within the liturgical season of Ordinary Time, which takes us through the life of Christ, and runs from the end of the Easter Season until Advent begins. Priests wear green vestments when celebrating Mass during Ordinary Time. Green is representative of the color of springtime, representing the renewal of life and hope for a glorious resurrection.
One story of renewal and hope in the Bible is the parable of the Good Samaritan. The Good Samaritan is the Gospel passage read on Sunday, July 14th this year.
The Bible passage begins with a man asking Jesus how to achieve eternal life. Jesus replies by saying that the greatest commandment is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” and the second is to “love your neighbor as yourself.” Questioning Jesus, the man asks who counts as his neighbor. Jesus responds with the parable of the Good Samaritan.
In the parable, a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho is attacked by robbers. The robbers take his clothes, beat him, and leave him for dead. A priest traveling down the same road sees the man but continues without stopping. A Levite man also passes by, sees the beaten man and continues on his way. Finally, a Samaritan passing down the road sees the man, takes pity on him, and stops to help him. He pours oil and wine on the victim’s wounds and bandages him. The Samaritan then puts the man on his own donkey, taking him to an inn to care for him. The next day he gives the innkeeper money and asks him to look after the man.
Then Jesus asks the man to whom he told the story, “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” The man answers, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus then preaches, “Go and do likewise.”
Just as Jesus preached in the parable of the Good Samaritan, the members of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul work to show mercy on their neighbors. You too, can follow the example of the Good Samaritan. Don’t ignore the homeless person you pass by on the street. Don’t forget about those who are hungry, or in need of clothing, or shelter. You can do something to transform your neighbor’s life. God wants us to show our neighbors mercy.
The Saint Vincent de Paul Society of Philadelphia has many ways, customized to each local community, for you to transform the lives of your neighbors as well as your own life. Like that of its founder, blessed Frédéric Ozanam, the vision of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul “is to embrace the world in a network of charity.”