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Homilies :: Latin Rite
15th Sunday in Ordinary Time Download This Homily

July 14, 2019

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

Deuteronomy 30:10-14

Psalm 69:14, 17, 30-31, 33-34, 36-37 

Colossians 1:15-20

Luke 10:25-37

 

Gospel Reading

 

A lawyer stood up and, to test Jesus, asked, 'Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?' He said to him, 'What is written in the Law? What is your reading of it?' He replied, 'You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.' Jesus said to him, 'You have answered right, do this and life is yours.' But the man was anxious to justify himself and said to Jesus, 'And who is my neighbor?' In answer Jesus said, 'A man was once on his way down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell into the hands of bandits; they stripped him, beat him and then made off, leaving him half dead. Now a priest happened to be travelling down the same road, but when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.

In the same way a Levite who came to the place saw him, and passed by on the other side.

But a Samaritan traveller who came on him was moved with compassion when he saw him. He went up to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them. He then lifted him onto his own mount and took him to an inn and looked after him.

Next day, he took out two denarii and handed them to the innkeeper and said, "Look after him, and on my way back I will make good any extra expense you have."

Which of these three, do you think, proved himself a neighbor to the man who fell into the bandits' hands?'

He replied, 'The one who showed pity towards him.' Jesus said to him, 'Go, and do the same yourself.'

 

 

Reflection


Who Is my Neighbour?

 

In today’s gospel passage, an expert in the law stands up to “test” Jesus. The lawyer is looking for a kind of court room exchange. The first question the lawyer puts is fundamental in Jewish law and interpretation. How is one right with God? Jesus turns the question back to him. “What do you say – what is your interpretation?” The lawyer recites a part of the schema; “You shall love the LORD your God…” and adds, “And your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus affirms the answer and says basically, “Go do this and you will be good with God.”

 

The lawyer chooses to push the question further. “And who is my neighbor? He wanted a legal definition that he could refer to in case the question of loving one ever happened to come up.  He wanted a legal definition.  But Jesus shifts the focus from right definition/knowledge to right action with the story of a Good Samaritan.  The story cuts through the religious establishment.  Not only does Jesus shift the legal ground, but focuses on the actions of our lives that please God and adds a twist from who is a neighbour to how can you become a good neighbour.

 

 

 

You know the rest of the story well. It is about someone who is “right” in the eyes of God. He is someone living out the love and mercy of God in his daily life.

 

This story presents three possible answers to the question "Who is my neighbour?" The first is the answer by the robbers. For them, any person outside their immediate family and friends was not a neighbour but a target and an object from which they can profit. This was their philosophy of life, and they were willing to use force to achieve their goals. When they robbed, they were not worried about the consequences of their actions on their victims. They lived by their own laws.

 

In one form or another, this philosophy has been practiced by many people throughout history. Many people of power have lived by it when they robbed and exploited the poor and needy. History is full of stories of people who have lived by the philosophy of the robbers. They do not stop to ask, "Who is my neighbour?" The philosophy of the robbers does not surprise us. After all, they are robbers

 

The tragedy in the story lies in the behaviour of the priest and the Levite, who represents two other possible answers to the question, "Who is my neighbour?" They, too, had a theology that guided their behaviour toward others.  They knew from their knowledge of OT who was their neighbour. According to the book of Leviticus loving your neighbour for Jews was limited to the love of one’s fellow Jews.

 

When they saw the injured and beaten victim on the road, they did not think of the victim but of themselves, they could only think of their own well-being. What if the robbers come back and attack them too? What if the victim is dead? If they touched the corpse, they would risk being defiled and unclean for seven days (Num 19:11). They would not be able to exercise their duties in the temple. At that moment all their religious beliefs were severely tested. Fear for their life as well as fear and anxiety about being contaminated placed the claims of religious duty above the demands of love.

 

Most of us probably find ourselves within the category of the priest or the Levite. And it is on this level that we most often fail. One of the main reasons for our lack of response is fear. Our response to the question of who is my neighbour takes on a very selfish form. Fear is one of our greatest enemies. It is not that we do not know what we need to do or lack the ability to distinguish between right and wrong, justice and injustice, morality and immorality.  In this sense, the opposite of love is not hate but fear. When there is love, fear disappears, and we are able to have the courage to speak out and take risks.

 

The radical twist in the story, however, is in the fact that Jesus chooses a Samaritan as the hero. From the perspective of Jews, the Samaritans were the despised enemies. According to the Mishna, “He that eats the bread of the Samaritans is like to one that eats the flesh of swine”.

 

Yet, it was the Samaritan who acted as neighbour to the victim by stopping to take the risk and come to his rescue. By doing this, Jesus forever revolutionized the interpretation of the Leviticus text. Interpreting from the Leviticus text loving your neighbour for Jews was limited to the love of one’s fellow Jews. The neighbour is no longer defined exclusively by Jesus’ interpretation. The door is now flung open to embrace all people, even one's enemies.

 

 

 

The lesson that the story of the Good Samaritan teaches is repeated in different forms by Jesus and is finally practiced by him on the cross when he offered forgiveness to his crucifiers.

 

You have heard that it was said, "You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy." But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. (Matt 5:43-45)

 

The story of the Good Samaritan challenges us to enlarge the circle of love to include even our enemies. Since it is already difficult to love others as we love ourselves, to love our enemies seems to be impossibility. The challenge before us, therefore, is to love others, including one's enemies, as God in Christ loves us. This is where faith comes to our rescue.

 

Fr. Cyril Kuttiyanikkal CMI


Homilies Navchetana Apps, the first of its kind is produced and published by Navchetana Communications, Bhopal, India to assist the clergy to preach the World of God and also as a handy spiritual resource for the people of God to reflect on the daily spiritual passages at their convenience. You can download this on your Android phone from Google play and you can see the Gospel reflections of the whole year. The size of this app is just 2.5 MB. We welcome your suggestions and contributions to server you better.

May God Bless you

Fr. James M L CMI

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Homilies Navchetana is an initiative of Navchetana Communications, Bhopal, India. We have been sending the Sunday and daily homilies last four years. We are grateful to you for your cooperation and encouraging comments. Navchetana is committed to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ through modern media and performing arts. Through our Web TV, audio and video productions and stage programmes we take the Gospel message to the ends of the earth. Make a donation and be a part of this noble mission.


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