14 July – Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
His Word is Near
We celebrate the nearness of the Lord to us his people. He is the Good Samaritan who comes close to us and heals us, raising us to life as his own body.
– The Sunday Missal
Moses said to the people: ‘Obey the voice of the Lord your God, keeping those commandments and laws of his that are written in the Book of this Law, and you shall return to the Lord your God with all your heart and soul.
‘For this Law that I enjoin on you today is not beyond your strength or beyond your reach. It is not in heaven, so that you need to wonder, “Who will go up to heaven for us and bring it down to us, so that we may hear it and keep it?” Nor is it beyond the seas, so that you need to wonder, “Who will cross the seas for us and bring it back to us, so that we may hear it and keep it?” No, the Word is very near to you, it is in your mouth and in your heart for your observance.’
Christ Jesus is the image of the unseen God
and the first-born of all creation,
for in him were created
all things in heaven and on earth:
everything visible and everything invisible,
Thrones, Dominations, Sovereignties, Powers –
all things were created through him and for him.
Before anything was created, he existed,
and he holds all things in unity.
Now the Church is his body,
he is its head.
As he is the Beginning,
he was first to be born from the dead,
so that he should be first in every way;
because God wanted all perfection
to be found in him
and all things to be reconciled through him and for him,
everything in heaven and everything on earth,
when he made peace
by his death on the cross.
There was a lawyer who, to disconcert Jesus, stood up and said to him, ‘Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ He said to him, ‘What is written in the Law? What do you read there?’ 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 neighbour as yourself.’ ‘You have answered right,’ said Jesus ‘do this and life is yours.’
But the man was anxious to justify himself and said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbour?’ Jesus replied, ‘A man was once on his way down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell into the hands of brigands; they took all he had, 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 upon him was moved with compassion when he saw him. He went up and bandaged his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them. He then lifted him on to his own mount, carried him to the inn and looked after him. Next day, he took out two denarii and handed them to the innkeeper. “Look after him,” he said “and on my way back I will make good any extra expense you have.” Which of these three, do you think, proved himself a neighbour to the man who fell into the brigands‘ hands?’ ‘The one who took pity on him’ he replied. Jesus said to him, ‘Go, and do the same yourself.’
You shall love the Lord your God… and your neighbor as yourself
I love the story of the Good Samaritan. To me, it’s a love story. It’s full of all the things that make good love stories great – courage, compassion, selflessness, determination and perseverance. It’s a story about going the distance with our acts of kindness, without expecting anything in return. For me, it’s one of the great love stories of the Bible.
The road from Jerusalem to Jericho was clearly unsafe. A priest and a Levite pass the man by without so much as flinching. Someone being robbed, stripped, beaten and left to die was clearly not an abnormal sight on this road. We’ve all been down these kinds of roads before, when we’re driving through unsafe neighborhoods. What do we do? We lock our doors, wind up our window screens and floor the accelerator. It takes incredible courage to step out of the car to help someone, knowing that you might be robbed too if the thugs do a double-back. But the Samaritan not only stops, he tends and binds up the man’s wounds then puts him on his own horse and brings him to the inn. It’s not like the Samaritan didn’t have any place to be, but his compassion was so strong, he put the other man’s needs before his own.
When they get to the inn, the Samaritan pays for the man’s upkeep. Caregiving is an expensive business. It is also a lengthy endeavor. You don’t know how long it will take so you can’t gauge how much it will cost. The Samaritan clearly knows this and in an act of tremendous generosity, goes the distance – “Take care of him, and whatever you spend on him, I will repay when I come back” (Luke 10:35). Most of us would readily provide for the upkeep of our loved ones but how many of us would pay for the upkeep of a total stranger? Yet here was the Samaritan determined to see the man through till he got well.
The story of the Good Samaritan is a parable of Christian love. It is also a parable for the greatest love story in the Bible – Jesus’ overflowing love for us that caused him to give himself up on the cross to see us through to salvation. Jesus didn’t need to stop for us. We were wretched sinners, stranded on the highway of life. He was the Son of God; the angels worshipped him. He didn’t need to put himself in harm’s way. He didn’t need to be tortured and flogged, to be crucified for us. Jesus is our ultimate Samaritan because while we were sinners, he picked us up, tended to us and paid for our salvation – with his own blood.
Great love stories are all about going the distance. Whether it’s the relationship we have with our loved ones or the commitment we show to our ministry, our charities or the random strangers God sends our way. Let’s examine our love stories and ask ourselves if we have done enough for those we love and for those whom we have the opportunity to show love to.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Sharon Soo)
Prayer: We pray for all those who are struggling with illness, with bereavement, with money issues. We pray that God will bring them their very own Good Samaritan to help them see things through.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all the random acts of kindness that strangers have shown us when we were in need. We give thanks to all the angels that God sends us to help us out of our own difficult situations.