What do I want to talk about from this story? Can you see the point I bring up through the story?
Here is a tragic history we can relate to. When Hitler rose to power in Germany in 1933, his Nazi party made national propaganda that expressed the imminent defeat of their enemies, the need for security, creating anti-Semitic and pro-Nazi material for the party. Through Nazi propaganda, the Nazi regime executed about 11 million lives including six million Jews. In order to do that, the Nazi party had a strategy to persecute by selecting a small respective group. They persecuted the Gypsies, homosexuals, the mentally and physically disabled, the prisoners of war and communists one by one. And then when they gained public support by doing these, they heightened their persecution on the bigger group such as Jews, Poles and other Slavic people. A sociologist questioned what if people were more conscious of their small neighbors’ suffering, what if they raised their voice saying, “it is not right to discriminate and persecute our neighbors.” But sadly it didn’t happen and many eventually became the victims included to the persecuted; it was too late.
The Lord says, “I have appointed you as watchman for the house of Israel…If you do not speak out to dissuade the wicked from his way, the wicked shall die for his guilt, but I will hold you responsible for his death.” We are responsible for our neighbor. We are our brother’s keeper. Our responsibility to take care of the neighbor and society is not invented but given by God who directly commands us, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” This has been the most important commandment Christians live with “You shall love your God with all your heart.” The question has been raised as well, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus answered this question through the story of Good Samaritan. As we know, Samaritans had nothing to do with the Jews because of the bloody history between them. Literally they hated each other for centuries. But active love should move beyond human emotion. When the Good Samaritan saw the Jew half dead bleeding on the street, he approached him although he knew who he was. He took care of the afflicted and made sure to look after him by leaving extra money. There is no expression of Good Samaritan’s feeling in the story; rather, he committed himself to act out of compassion. Jesus asks us, “Do it to anyone suffering likewise.”
Our responsibility to concern our neighbor entails concrete actions and this will be the criteria that we are to be asked when we stand before the Lord’s glorious throne on the Last Judgment.
“Did you give me food when I was hungry? Did you give me drink when I was thirsty? What about clothing to the naked? What did you do to a stranger? Did you care when I was sick? Did you visit when I was in prison? Whatever you did for one of these least brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Love your neighbor as yourself. This is not a foiled maxim we take out when we come to the church. It should be our way of thinking and acting in everyday and this will decide our future ultimately. I don’t think any better insurance to get into the heaven than practicing active love for neighbor every day.
Once again, our responsibility to love our neighbor should be our daily practice that decides who we are and how we live. I finish the homily with the movie “The Bucket List.” The two terminally ill friends travel to Egypt to see the magnificent pyramids. On the top of that, they talk about the ancient Egyptians who believed that when they died and came to the gate of paradise, they were to be asked two questions, the answer to which would determine whether or not they were admitted to the heaven. The first question is “Have you found joy in your life?” Have you? Many could say, “yes.” And the second question turns out to be similar but more challenging, “Have you brought joy to others in your life?” Have you? It is our responsibility to love our neighbor as ourselves. How do you answer to this question: “Have you brought joy to others in your life?”