Today we honour the memory of the Spanish Dominican Saint Louis Bertrand who preached the Gospel in Colombia and Panama. When his health failed he returned to Spain where he died whilst preaching in the cathedral at Valencia on 9th October 1581. Saint Louis was canonised in 1671 and he is the patron saint of Colombia and the patron of Dominican formation personnel and novitiates. So, I hope the Novitiate is enjoying a well-deserved holiday today. As this is an obligatory memoria for Dominicans, we are unable to observe the Memorial of Blessed John Henry Newman which also falls today.
I read somewhere that common sense should really be called something else, because common sense is not really all that common. For example, if you were walking down the lane and saw a man bruised and beaten, lying in his own blood, wouldn’t common sense tell you to help him? What kind of person walks past a man in that condition?
Believe it or not, there were reasons to excuse the Levite and the priest. Jewish law decreed that coming into contact with someone else’s blood rendered you ritually unclean. And if a priest or Levite were to become unclean, he wouldn’t be able to minister in the Temple until a specified amount of time had passed, or until he had offered a sacrifice to purify himself. But if you find yourself debating between ritual impurity and the life of a wounded man, there really should be no question. Of course, you should help the man and then do whatever you need to do in order to become ritually pure again.
Ironically, it’s the Samaritan who shows both common sense and compassion. And the man he stops to help is most likely a Jew. He helps one of the people who looked down on Samaritans as unworthy of their time or attention. But none of that mattered. Someone was in need, and he knew he had to help. Unlike the priest and the Levite who passed by on the other side of the road, the Samaritan was willing to get his hands dirty in order to help someone in need. He showed what it means to love our neighbour. And in a sense, he reveals the truth behind Saint Peter’s saying that “love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).
Our Lord wants to tell us today that our neighbour is everyone. He wants to tell us that our love shouldn’t be limited only to those we like or get on with. We should never be afraid to get our hands dirty as we manifest God’s love and truth to the people around us.
also in England today