SOUL FOOD FOR HUNGRY ADULT COMMUNITIES: JULY 14, 2013, FIFTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME.
Mass Readings for this Sunday: Deuteronomy 30:10-14, Colossians 1:15-20, Luke 10:25-37. Click here for Mass Readings.
Gospel: Good Samaritan, Luke 10:25-37.
Did you ever have the feeling that the rug had just been pulled from under you? That a question had up-ended your world and your attitudes? And did you ever feel that someone is having you on, teasing you, and throwing down a challenge to you?
Well, here was this good man, a Law-abiding Jew, who knew the Law inside out and back to front. He literally was ‘Law-abiding’,- living his life within all the body of laws of his community. He thought he had it made. But when he tested the Rabbi Jesus (who wasn’t trained in any law school!), the Rabbi gently turned him upside down and challenged his thinking. Let me explain what I mean by this.
The lawyer was a good man, with lots of knowledge. He was a faithful Jew. And he did know what the heart of the matter was and is,- ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and will all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself.’ Bingo, he thought, I know the answer!
But, you see, being a Jew, he certainly had no love whatever for those people up the road
in Samaria, who had been Jews but had left, and had even built their own temple. These people were far from God, in the eyes of Law-abiding Jews. They were obviously to be despised, even by God. So, ‘Who is my neighbour?’ was like asking Jesus ‘Who among my own people should I love as I love myself?’
Jesus didn’t answer the question, but instead told a story, a parable which is a story with a sting in the tail. you have read it in today’s Gospel reading.
The priest passed by the wounded man.
The levite (a Temple official) passed by the wounded man.
They didn’t want to become ‘un-clean’ by contact with blood and stuff. If they did, they couldn’t enter the Temple!
But then, who comes along but a (despised!) Samaritan! A Samaritan of all people! One of them! Yecchh! And he is the one who does the right thing, who ‘loves’ this human being lying in the ditch,- even if the human being happened to be one of those Jewish people that the Samaritan people equally could not abide.
The Lawyer saw Samaritan. The Samaritan saw a human being. And the Samaritan acted in a neighbourly way towards him, caring for him, picking him up, bringing him to a hostel (usually a yard where the camels could be tied up for the night, and the traveller could throw down his sleeping mat nearby). He paid two day’s wages for his care, and promised more if needed.
And all of this good deed was done by someone despised by this ‘good’ lawyer,- a SAMARITAN! Would you believe it?
The lawyer’s prejudices were deeply challenged. ‘Who was neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of the brigands?’ It must have stuck in the lawyer’s throat to have to say ‘Samaritan’,- so all he said was ‘the one who took pity on him.’
And Jesus would challenge us about our phobias, also,- maybe it’s our homo-phobia, or some ethnic phobia, or colour phobia against people of some other colour. We ALL have our phobias, our closed hearts against certain people or groups. But Jesus will challenge us and turn us on our heads, on our tails, if we don’t open our eyes, see the human being beside us who needs us, and then reach out and touch that human being in a healing, welcoming, caring manner.
If we see someone we hate or despise doing a really good deed, it guts us, because it challenges our gut rejections.
Time that Jesus up-ended us, in our communities and families and personal lives.
The ones we hate, He thinks they’re great! Ouch!
Seamus D. firstname.lastname@example.org
P.S. The Second Reading today, from the Letter to the Colossians (1:15-20) is like a hymn to who Jesus the Christ is,- a dawning awareness among the disciples that Jesus was and is truly ‘the image of the unseen God’. Worth spending a little while with this, possibly along with a couple of friends.