At the Angelus on Sunday, Pope Francis reflected on the parable of the Good Samaritan.
This parable, the Pope said, in a simple, yet stimulating way, “indicates a style of life, in which the centre of gravity is not ourselves, but others.” Like the doctor of the law in the day’s Gospel, we might ask ourselves, “Who is my neighbour? Is it my friends, my parents, my fellow countrymen, my co-religionists?”
Jesus does not answer the question directly, but instead tells of the Good Samaritan, a man who did not observe the true religion, but who nonetheless helped the poor, abandoned victim of robbers – in contrast to the priest and the Levite who simply passed him by. This story, the Pope said, completely reverses our perspective. It is not up to us, he said, to try to categorize people, to see if they count as our neighbours. Rather, the decision to be, or not be a neighbour, depends on us. “It depends on me,” Pope Francis said, “it depends on me to be or not be a neighbour to the person I meet who has need of my help, even if he is a stranger, or even hostile.”
In the Gospel, Jesus tells the doctor of the law – and he tells us, too – to do as the Good Samaritan had done. We must have the attitude of the Good Samaritan to demonstrate our faith. The Pope quoted from the Apostle St James, reminding us that “faith without works is dead.” We should ask ourselves, the Pope said, if our faith is fruitful, if it produces good works, or if, on the other hand, it is sterile, “and so more dead than alive.”
We should ask ourselves this question often, Pope Francis continued, because it is precisely on this question that we will be judged at the end of our lives. The Lord, he said, will ask us, “Do you remember that time on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho? That man, who was half-dead, was me. Do you remember? That hungry child was me. Do you remember? That migrant who so many people wanted to chase away was me. Those grandparents, abandoned in rest homes, were me. Those sick people in the hospital, who no one went to find, were me.”
With that challenging reflection, Pope Francis concluded his remarks, calling on the Blessed Virgin “to help us to walk along the paths of generous love towards others, the path of the Good Samaritan.”
Loving and forgiving as God loves and forgives. This is a programme of life that can know no interruptions or exceptions.