Have you seen The Wizard of OZ?

This week's reflection is written by
V. Rev. Michael S. Murray, OSFS

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One of my favorite scenes comes near the end of the movie right after the Wizard loses control of the balloon and leaves Dorothy and Toto behind. Just when she thinks that she’ll never get home, enter Glenda, the good witch. Remember?

Dorothy: “Will you help me? Can you help me?”

Glenda: “You don’t need to be helped any longer. You’ve always had the power to go back to Kansas.”

Dorothy: “I have?”

Scarecrow: “Why didn’t you tell her before?”

Glenda: “Because she wouldn’t have believed me. She had to learn it for herself.”

Tin Man: “What have you learned, Dorothy?”

Dorothy: “If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own back yard…is that right?”

Glenda: “That’s all it is.”

Scarecrow: “But that’s so easy. I should have thought of it for you.”

Tin Man: “I should I felt it in my heart.”

Glenda: “No, she had to find it out for herself.”

When it comes to the spiritual life, many of us are in the same boat as Dorothy. Whether we’re conscious of it or not, we believe that finding our heart’s desire – or realizing God’s desire for us – is beyond our grasp. It’s unattainable. It’s somewhere over the rainbow.

But listen to the words of Moses in a reading from the Book of Deuteronomy:

For this command that I enjoin on you today is not too mysterious and remote for you. It is not up in the sky, it is not across the sea…that you should ask who will get it for you; it is something very near to you, already in your mouths and in your hearts; you have only to carry it out.”

The Parable of the Good Samaritan challenges us to love God. The Parable of the Good Samaritan challenges us to love our neighbor as ourselves. Like Dorothy, we’ve always had the power – we’ve always had the power to love. We just need to carry it out – to name, claim and make use of the power to love in our relationships with each other.

Opportunities to use our power to love aren’t somewhere over the rainbow. We don’t need to look in faraway places to make it happen; we can start by looking in our own back yards. Take a good look at the people with whom we interact day in and day out along the road of life. Who are the people in our lives who are hungry? Who are the people in our lives who are hurting? Who are the people in our lives who need healing? Who are the people in our lives who need hope?

We already have the power to love. It’s who we are. It’s how we’re built. Notwithstanding the Scarecrow’s opinion, though, making use of that power is not always easy. To try our level best day in and day out to love of neighbors – to meet people where they are and to treat those around us with empathy, mercy and compassion is probably the toughest thing we could ever commit ourselves to doing, especially – as in the case of the Good Samaritan – when helping someone else requires us to place the other person’s needs ahead of our own.

We’ve always had the power to love the Lord, our God, with all our heart, with all our being, with all our strength, and with all our mind. We’ve always had the power to love our neighbor as ourselves.

Today — just today — let’s carry it out...together.