Sunday, July 10, 2016

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiiker, pastor
By Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor

Quote of the Week: “If and when were planted. Nothing grew.” — Turkish saying

“Hawthorne — city of friendly neighbors!”

That is the inscription on signs all over the city of Hawthorne, a city adjacent to Los Angeles International Airport.

How beautiful and how dangerous to post such a sign. If you bear the title, you are responsible for living it! “Do you walk the talk?”

There is no attempt here to denigrate the fair city of Hawthorne, but rather to state how dangerous it is to claim a title.

The danger is that the words could remain merely words without real meaning. But isn’t that so also true when we claim the name “Christian”?

We say, by that title, we are followers of Christ. That means that his words and actions — his teachings and example — are meant to become our own.

Just how difficult that can be is revealed in the Gospel narrative today.

A scribe, a good and outstanding religious leader and practitioner of the law, claimed to be a true follower of the law. In trying to claim what he had to do in order to gain everlasting life, he answered Jesus’ question about the law and stated the Shema or, “Hear, O Israel.”

Loving God and loving neighbor as yourself always will be for the Jews the call of how to live everyday, always.

This is recited frequently throughout the day as THE way to show that God is at the center of one’s life. Loving neighbor is inextricably united and flows in and out of our love of God.

John’s first letter (1 John 4:20b) said it even more bluntly and straightforward: “For whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.”

The only wiggle space or loophole which might help one escape this call would have to be justified by the law itself. So when the scribe asked Jesus “who is my neighbor?” it is evident that he was looking for that space where perhaps one could wiggle away from walking the talk.

As usual, Jesus took the challenge head on. He told a story of a neighbor robbed and beaten, lying on the road to die. A priest and Levite walk by and, because of ritual purity laws, they justified their actions to pass the man without responding to his needs or showing compassion.

The one who proves himself to be neighbor, angel, savior, friend, doctor, and man of compassion, is the one who placed neighbor ABOVE the law — a Samaritan.

He acted with love. He took care of ALL of the needs of a stranger at his own expense and went far above and beyond the call of duty.

The Gospel today asks us: Who is my neighbor? What is compassion? How does one love?

What is the kingdom really about? How does one follow Christ and claim the name Christian?

The question we have to ask ourselves is: “Do we walk the talk?”

Father Perry D. Leiker is pastor of St. Bernard Church. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112; email Follow Father Perry on Twitter: @MrDeano76.

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