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SUNDAY HOMILY: The Happy Priest - Christianity 101

By Fr. James Farfaglia
July 15th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

We are going to find Jesus by reaching out and immersing ourselves into the wounded.  Moreover, we are all wounded, because we are all part of a world that has forgotten how to love. 

CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (Catholic Online) - My grandmother spent her last years in a nursing home because she was unable to care for herself.  Alzheimer's completely sapped her joyful vitality and totally changed her personality.

Every time I went home to visit my parents, we would always spend time with my grandmother.  The visits were always very sad.  After my mother briefly reminded her as to whom we were, my grandmother would be delighted by our visits.  The sadness was caused by what the illness had done to my grandmother.

The nurses at the nursing home were extraordinary women.  In their own simple way, they would take care of every tiny detail of the patients.  There were many other patients that were in worse shape than my grandmother.  I often wondered how the nurses could be so cheerful and so loving in such a difficult environment.

One day, during one of our family visits, the nurse that always took care of my grandmother, told me that she could not wait to retire so that she could come back every day to the nursing home and spend her entire day with the patients at no charge to the home.  She was so excited about the possibility of generously giving of herself without any restrictions.

This Sunday's liturgy provides us with another wonderful opportunity to deepen our love for God and our neighbor.
 
In my opinion, the parable of the Good Samaritan and the parable of the Prodigal Son are Jesus' greatest teachings and clearly they are among the most beautiful passages of Sacred Scripture.  

During the past few weeks, the Catholic liturgy has been presenting to us teachings on the essence of Christianity.

Without a doubt, the parable of the Good Samaritan is a vital gospel narrative for our reflection.

This Sunday's parable teaches us how we are to love.  The parable leaves no room for doubt.  Anyone who is in need must be taken care of with profound magnanimity. 

The magnanimous care that the Samaritan gives to the unfortunate man provides a model of how we are to care for all those who are in need.   Christianity and egotism are diametrically opposed to each other.   

Every one of the Samaritan's actions is an act of profound magnanimity.
The Samaritan is moved with compassion as he comes upon the man who has fallen into the hands of robbers.  This movement of the heart is characteristic of the love that Jesus has for all humanity.   It is precisely this movement of the heart that causes the Good Samaritan to do such loving acts of service and kindness.  This movement of the heart causes him to come out of himself and give himself entirely to the needs of the man that he finds on the side of the road. 

"But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.  And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the inn-keeper, saying, 'Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back'" (Luke 10: 33-35).

The acts of the Good Samaritan go beyond generosity.  His magnanimity shows that there are no limits to his kindness and service. 

The parable of the Good Samaritan demands that we live our lives in the same way.  We cannot ignore the needs of anyone.  Only those who are magnanimous servants of their neighbor are truly happy people. 

There are two major obstacles to living out true gospel charity: our ego and our moods.  We need to be selfless and we need to get our moods under control.  Too many people in our contemporary society only live for themselves and too many people live from one mood swing to another. 

A healthy family life is the best way to develop the virtue of charity.   Interaction among family members takes place most frequently at the dining room table.  Families need to have dinner together every night.  Excessive involvement in sports and after school activities robs a family of the intimate social life that helps to keep families alive. 

Aside from excessive activities, too much television viewing causes family members to isolate themselves into their own little shells.  This is particularly true when parents allow children to have their own television set in their bedrooms. 

Another aspect of strong family life is a healthy social life.  Too many people live isolated lives.  Too many people are incapable of true friendship.  Christian charity is impossible if we do not even understand what it means to be a friend to someone. 

The excessive use of Facebook draws millions of people into a narcissistic fantasy world.  People are starving for real friendship and for real love. 

So many people of our contemporary society are like the man, of this Sunday's gospel narrative, "that fell victim to robbers."  "They stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half -dead" (Luke 10: 30). 

Broken and dysfunctional families have left millions of people abandoned, lonely and feeling unloved. 

Wouldn't it be better to turn off the television, the computer and Facebook and just go over and knock on your neighbor's door, go for a walk with your spouse, or spend time with your children?

Yet, most people, when they come home from work, lock themselves up into an isolated island of narcissism, feeding themselves with hours of mindless television and Internet, while millions of people starve for love and affection.  

"Once man has lost the fundamental orientation which unifies his existence, he breaks down into the multiplicity of his desires; in refusing to await the time of promise, his life-story disintegrates into a myriad of unconnected instants.  Idolatry, then, is always polytheism, an aimless passing from one lord to another.  Idolatry does not offer a journey but rather a plethora of paths leading nowhere and forming a vast labyrinth.  Those who choose not to put their trust in God must hear the din of countless idols crying out 'Put your trust in me!'

Faith, tied as it is to conversion, is the opposite of idolatry; it breaks with idols to turn to the living God in personal encounter.  Believing means entrusting oneself to a merciful love which always accepts and pardons, which sustains and directs our lives, and which shows its power by its ability to make straight the crooked line of our history.  Faith consists in the willingness to let ourselves be constantly transformed and renewed by God's call.  Herein lies the paradox: by constantly turning towards the Lord, we discover a sure path which liberates us from the dissolution imposed upon us by idols" (Pope Francis, Lumen Fidei, 13). 

We need to be like the Good Samaritan. 

We are going to find Jesus by reaching out and immersing ourselves into the wounded.  Moreover, we are all wounded, because we are all part of a world that has forgotten how to love. 

"But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.  And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the inn-keeper, saying, 'Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back'" (Luke 10: 33-35).

Visit Fr. James Farfaglia on the web at www.fatherjames.org and listen to the audio podcast of this Sunday homily.

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