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Pope Francis: Ignoring Our Neighbor’s Suffering Means Ignoring God!

Pope Francis greets the crowd as he arrives for his weekly gener

© Antoine Mekary / ALETEIA

Diane Montagna - published on 04/27/16

The Parable of the Good Samaritan takes center stage at the Wednesday audience (Full Text)

VATICAN CITY — Worship is not true if it does not translate into service to others, Pope Francis said on Wednesday, for “love is not a vague sentiment, but means taking care of another to the point of personal sacrifice.”

Pope Francis general Audience April 26, 2016
© Antoine Mekary / ALETEIA

Continuing his series of catecheses for the Year of Mercy, the pope turned today to the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), telling faithful and pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square that attentiveness to religious practices and rubrics does not automatically lead to knowledge of God’s mercy and knowing how to love one’s neighbor.

Pope Francis general Audience April 26, 2016
© Antoine Mekary / ALETEIA

“Let us never forget this,” he said. “We cannot remain spectators before the suffering of so many people who are worn out by hunger, violence, and injustice. What does ignoring the suffering of man mean? It means ignoring God!”

Pope Francis general Audience April 26, 2016
© Antoine Mekary / ALETEIA

The Good Samaritan, the pope said, behaves with true mercy and compassion, and acts with an authentic love of neighbor, by “suffering with him” without discrimination.

The compassion shown by the Samaritan is an image of the infinite mercy of God, who always sees our needs and draws near to us in love.

Pope Francis general Audience April 26, 2016
© Antoine Mekary / ALETEIA

Here below we publish an English translation of the pope’s catechesis.

Pope Francis during his weekly general audience
© Antoine Mekary / ALETEIA

Dear brothers and sisters,

Good morning. Today we reflect on the parable of the Good Samaritan (cf. Luke 10:25-37). A doctor of the Law puts Jesus to the test with this question: “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (v.25). Jesus asks him to give the response himself, and he gives it perfectly: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself” (v. 27). Then Jesus concludes: “Do this, and you will live” (v. 28).

So the man asks another question, which becomes very valuable for us: “Who is my neighbor?” (v. 29), and he implied: “My relatives? My countrymen? Those of my religion?” In short, he wants a clear rule that allows him to classify others as “neighbors” and “non-neighbors,” as those who can become neighbors and those who cannot become neighbors.

And Jesus responds with a parable, involving a priest, a Levite and a Samaritan. The first two figures are linked to temple worship; the third is a schismatic Jew, regarded as a foreigner, as a pagan and unclean, that is, the Samaritan.

On the road from Jerusalem to Jericho, the priest and the Levite come across a dying man, whom robbers attacked, robbed and abandoned. The law of the Lord in such situations required the one help him, but both pass by without stopping. They were in a hurry … The priest, perhaps, looked at his watch and said: “But, I’ll be late for Mass … I have to say Mass.” And the other said: “But, I do not know if the law allows me, because there is blood there, and I will become unclean…”. They go by another road and do not approach. And here the parable offers us a first teaching: It is not automatic that those who frequent God’s house and know his mercy know how to love their neighbor. It is not automatic! You can know the entire Bible, you can know all the liturgical rubrics, you can know the whole of theology, but loving doesn’t come automatically from knowing: Love has another road, it requires intelligence, but also something more…. The priest and the Levite see [the dying man], but they ignore him; they look, but they do not provide for him. Yet there is no true worship if it does not translate into service to others.

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