The Gospel according to Luke (10:25-37)
There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test Jesus and said, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read it?” He said in reply, “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.” He replied to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.” But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
Jesus replied, “A man fell victim to robbers as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. They stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half-dead. A priest happened to be going down that road, but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. Likewise, a Levite came to the place, and when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight. He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them. Then he lifted him up on his own animal, took him to an inn, and cared for him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction,
‘Take care of him. If you spend more than what I have given you, I shall repay you on my way back.’ Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?” He answered, “The one who treated him with mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
Opening Prayer: My deep and wise Lord, You and You alone have every answer to life. You and You alone can reveal to me all that I need to know in life to achieve holiness and fulfillment. Please open my heart so that I can come to You with humility and sincerity, open to all that You wish to reveal to me. Jesus, I trust in You.
Encountering Christ: I have these faithful friends who are very compassionate, they love me unconditionally no matter if I am in a bad mood or if I yell at them. They are more than willing to do things with me and when I work around the house they are immediately at my side. They sit when I tell them to sit and run when I tell them to run. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I am speaking about my two dogs, Samm and Duffy.
Today is the Memorial Day of St. Francis of Assisi, he is one of favorite saints because of his connection with nature and the creatures of the earth. Now, I am sorry if you’re not an animal lover so please tolerate this reflection.
I grew up on a ranch in East Los Angeles, That’s Right! My Grandma loved animals and was fortunate to have a good size backyard in the middle of East Los Angeles. She had a bird aviary, a chicken coop, geese, rabbits, exotic birds, and many other creatures. My grandma taught how to respect all these creatures and that they all had something to give us. My joy was waking up in the morning and feeding the animals. After I fed the animals, my grandma would tell me to go get some eggs for breakfast. After my chores I would enjoy sitting inside the bird aviary and just talk to the birds. I would sit on the floor and when I came out, I was Blessed with bird poop on my head and shoulders.
This was my first introduction to all the beautiful creatures in this world and my passion would only continue. Many of you know that I enjoy going up to the Sierra Nevada mountains and fish the rivers. When I go it’s not just about fishing. It’s also about looking at all the gifts that God has given us to admire and be grateful for.
In my older years, I have been able to talk to all these creatures on this earth. When I am in my garden there are garden spiders, hummingbirds, beetles, squirrels, and birds that live there, and I have given them all a name. In fact, one of them is Steve (Hillmann) because he patrols my yard all day long.
Buddhists have a great connection with nature, and I believe that we have something to learn from that. There is definitely a connection between us, nature and God. But referring to the beginning of this reflection, I have something to learn from my dogs. I need to learn to be forgiving, to be more obedient, and to love unconditionally without judgement just like these creatures.
Richard Rohr couldn’t have said it better. I really think human beings need someone to love, someone to awaken us to the flow of love and to keep that flow going. I can understand why so many people have adopted pets to ease their isolation during the pandemic! I often wonder if there doesn’t have to be an object (which then becomes a subject) whose goodness, truth, and beauty draw us out of ourselves. That someone doesn’t even have to be human; it can be an animal to whom we give ourselves and through whom we feel ourselves given back. Remember, our English word animal comes from the Latin word for “soul” or anima. Animals are ensouled ones!
A portion of today’s reading speaks about our love for humanity; could it be possible that He wants us to love His creatures as well?
Closing Prayer: Lord, I thank You for Your countless gifts. Thank You for the gift of grace won by Your Cross and thank You also for the gift of nature and for the way You made me. Help me to embrace my full identity in accord with Your design and, in that embrace, help me to continue to discover my very dignity. Jesus, I trust in You.
Action of the Day: Today, I will take the time necessary to truly encounter the people you put in my path, to see them as you see them, to hear them and listen for their real needs, and offer them the balm of sincere appreciation and acceptance.