In 2013, Pope Francis stated “To love God and neighbour is not something abstract, but profoundly concrete: it means seeing in every person the face of the Lord to be served, to serve him concretely. And you are, dear brothers and sisters, the face of Jesus”
In 2017, the theme for Project Compassion is ‘Love your Neighbour’. During this Lenten season we will demonstrate how love for our neighbours can transform lives. When mutual respect is fostered, communities become stronger and more resilient. This can only lead to a better future for our world, the world that Pope Francis has recently called “our common home”.
During our Ash Wednesday Mass, Lynda Mussell a representative of CAFOD, the Catholic international development charity, in England & Wales, gave a reflection on the Gospel, ‘The Parable of the Good Samaritan’. Lynda explained its link to this year’s Project Compassion theme.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus says we should love our neighbours as much as we love ourselves. But when he’s asked ‘who is my neighbour?’ he goes on to tell a story which isn’t just about loving those next door to us or the people we like – but people we don’t know, people from unknown places, strangers.
In this story – two religious people who came across the wounded man– just walked by. Perhaps they were frightened that the robbers were still in the area, perhaps they really didn’t see him or perhaps they didn’t think it was their problem.
We’ve all done it. We’ve all passed by on the other side and chosen not got involved with something because it looks too difficult.
But in Jesus’ story – it was a Samaritan – someone who was regarded as an enemy of the Jews at the time – who stopped and helped the wounded man.
And the Samaritan didn’t just stop – he made some costly sacrifices. He provided bandages, perhaps by ripping his own clothing, he used his own wine as an antiseptic and his own oil as a soothing lotion. It’s his animal that transported the injured man to the inn and it’s his money that paid for the room. He didn’t stop to judge him or think about his own safety.
And he didn’t just feel sorry for the man – he did something about it even if it meant taking a risk himself.
For me, this is a story that doesn’t just ask us to love our neighbours – whoever and wherever they are – but a story that tells us that it’s going to come at a cost. If you follow Christ – and yours is a living faith – you’re asked to make sacrifices– to put yourself out there and show God’s love for others by taking action. And you’re given the strength to do it…
Today marks the beginning of Lent, a time when we pray, fast and give alms as we prepare for the great feast of Easter.
For forty days we accompany Jesus on his journey to Calvary and we see the mercy he shows towards others despite his own suffering. Just as God shows mercy towards us – like Jesus – we try to show mercy to others.
Last year, your prayers and support for the work of Caritas Australia meant we were able to reach 2 million people directly through our emergency and development programs both here in Australia as well as overseas.
The community here at Stuartholme alone has raised just under $52,000 over the last five years. That’s incredible. Thank all you so much. That’s a very tangible expression to the love of God and our neighbour.
Project Compassion is our opportunity to invite you to journey with us again this year but also to demonstrate just how life changing this work is…
We may not physically be able to travel to the places around the world where we see such need to offer our help in person– but through our support for Caritas – for Project Compassion – that’s exactly what we are able to do.
So this Lent after the ash is washed away and we journey to Easter, let us hold in our prayers all our neighbours – the oppressed, the hungry, the broken-hearted, the captives, the prisoners, who are all the focus of Project Compassion.
And may we give generously of our time and our talents so that more of our brothers and sisters can go forward in the hope of a better future.
Over the coming weeks there will be multiple opportunities at school events for your daughter to give generously to Project Compassion. If you would like to make a personal donation, please go to https://www.caritas.org.au/donate/online-donation?DonationCode=PC
Director of Mission