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October 8, 2018 - There is No 'Other' in the Kingdom of God

Monday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

In today's Gospel, Jesus tells the parable of the Good Samaritan. A man—robbed, beaten, and 'half dead’—by the side of the road is ignored by a priest and Levite while a Good Samaritan goes out of his way to attend and provide ongoing care for him. Let's take a moment and think of each of the characters in this parable—the robbers, the ones who pass by, the Samaritan, the victim. Can we not identify with each of them? Have we not each passed by someone in need and overlooked an 'other'? Helped someone in trouble? Experienced being the 'other' passed by, disdained, rejected? Have we not, at times, been the cause of someone else's suffering or misfortune? Each one of us have played these roles at times. It is a mixture of seeing someone as neighbor and seeing them as 'other'.

Perceiving those we encounter as ‘other' is often instantaneous. It's seems hard-wired within us…a reflex out of our control. But what would it be if our immediate reaction was different? What if that reaction was attention, mercy, and compassion? What would that mean? Well, it would mean human hearts blind to the notion of 'otherness'. It would mean bringing the Kingdom of God into our very midst because, in God's Kingdom, there is no ‘other’. In the Kingdom of God there is only ‘neighbor’. And though we cannot change other people, we can certainly change ourselves. We can become more aware of our own way of thinking and acting in our own corner of the world. We can stop our immediate reaction and change our course of thought. We can beg for the grace to think, talk, and act like neighbor. (aka Jesus)

Today, pray that God will raise our awareness of how and when we see anyone as ‘other’. May God bestow upon us the grace to see them as God does—see them as neighbor—and encounter them as God does—as a child of the Kingdom.

--Gail Lyman