Home Page Home Page Events Events Photos Photos Diocese of Ogdensburg Home Page  
Follow Us on Facebook


Father Muench Says...

Live like a neighbor, like a Samaritan

October 21, 2020

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

Months ago, when the pandemic began and truly changed the way we lived and prayed, I believed it was a good idea to add an intention to the Prayer of the Faithful at each Mass, a petition that we all pray together for our brothers and sisters on this planet, for we are all together in the danger of this pandemic. This pandemic unites all peoples on the planet more than ever before.

So, you see, I was truly pleased as I began reading Pope Francis’ new encyclical that calls upon us all, the peoples of this planet, to unite in spirit and action. Pope Francis hopes that there will be a dialogue among the people of this world.

This new encyclical is entitled, “Fratelli Tutti” – we should see ourselves as brothers and sisters. Pope Francis says of his encyclical: “I offer this social encyclical as a modest contribution to a continued reflection in the hope that in the face of present-day attempt to eliminate or ignore others, we may prove capable of responding with a new vision of fraternity and social friendship that will not remain at the level of words.”

Pope Francis demonstrates his hopes and dreams for a united, peaceful world of people living and working together by dedicating his encyclical to the honor of St. Francis of Assisi. Pope Francis spends several pages in an effort to describe St. Francis and his fraternal openness. Pope Francis tells us of the spirit and dedication of St. Francis and his original community. Pope Francis writes that St. Francis appreciated, even loved each person that he met, regardless of where he or she was born and lived.

Wherever he went, St. Francis sowed the seeds of peace. He walked alongside the poor, the abandoned, the infirm, the outcasts, the least of his brothers and sisters. Pope Francis this begin his encyclical by reminding us of the example of his patron, St. Francis of Assisi.

Pope Francis then begins his message by focusing on the Gospel parable of Jesus, the parable of the Good Samaritan. This story of Jesus has influenced Christians, actually all peoples, for all time. The story teaches us that the world is a better place when we all are caring and loving people who think and pray for each other regardless of our relationship to those in need.

Let me take a moment to remind you of this rather familiar Parable of the Good Samaritan. Jesus uses this parable to answer a question that is brought to him. A Jewish scholar of the law asks Jesus what is necessary to inherit eternal life. Jesus answers with a question: What is written in the law? This man is a scholar of the law. This scholar knows the answer is the two great commandments – love God above all things and love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus praises his answer, “You have answered correctly, do this and you will live.” This scholar, however, comes back with a further question, “And who is my neighbor?”

Jesus takes this moment to tell his parable, the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Jesus knows what he wants to make it clear that if we are people of faith, we will always be ready to help all others who are in need no matter where they are from or where they live. Jesus strives to demonstrate this with his unique and clever parable, a story most people still remember well. Jesus knows he is speaking to Jewish people. He knows there is no love or respect for Samaritans, but in his story, the Samaritan is the example of a good neighbor. The Samaritan is far better than the priest or the Levite who do not stop to help the man in need.

Jesus’ instruction is simple: Go and do likewise. An interesting message, he tells this Jewish scholar to live like a Samaritan.

North Country Catholic North Country Catholic is
honored by Catholic Press
Association of US & Canada

Copyright © Roman Catholic Diocese of Ogdensburg. All rights reserved.