15th Sunday in Ordinary Time 14 July 2019
THE PARABLE OF THE Good Samaritan is easily one of the best known in the scriptures and the term “Good Samaritan” is often used to describe someone who does a charitable act. Not unexpectedly, most of the focus in the parable is on the Samaritan character, the one who acts lovingly when the other characters, who ought to, do not. Conversely, the Jewish lawyer who asks Jesus the question “And who is my neighbour?” would have expected nothing less of the Samaritan than that he would have ignored the man lying injured by the side of the road, especially if he was Jewish, an assumption we can safely make. The impact of the story would have been all the more shocking for a listener of the time if the Samaritan, a group despised by Jews,were to act lovingly towards a Jew.
The priest and the Levite undoubtedly justified their actions on the basis that if they were to come into contact with blood, they would be rendered unclean from a religious perspective. They may well have said in their hearts that they felt compassion and pity on the man lying injured, but, unfortunately, religious laws prevented them rendering assistance. The Samaritan, on the other hand, had no such scruples. The Samaritan felt compassion and cared nothing about the nature of the one he was helping: that another human being was in distress was motivation enough for him to render assistance as a good neighbour should.
Part of the reason for the popularity of this parable may be the perceived hypocrisy of the religious figures who fail to “practice what they preach” and the sheer extravagance of the Samaritan’s response, not only bandaging up the injured man but organising and paying for his ongoing care. Putting these two points aside, surely the principal message for us as Christians is the very message that Jesus was trying to convey to the lawyer who asked the question about the identity of one’s neighbour: a neighbour is one who shows compassion and mercy to others, regardless of who they are.
Too often, of course, Christians can be only too willing to help, so long as certain criteria are met. We may not like to think of our motivation as being anything other than pure, but we need to be honest with ourselves. Compassion means feeling for another in their suffering, something closer to empathy over sympathy. Do we really feel compassion, in the truest sense of the word, towards those who aren’t like us in many ways? Jesus was clearly one who showed compassion for those who “weren’t like him”, gentiles, those who were suffering from terrible diseases and even those who were members of a group who were oppressing his own people. True compassion knows no boundaries.
Let us pray for the grace to reach out to all those in need, regardless of who they are and regardless of the consequences, even if our reputation suffers in the eyes of family or friends. After all, in being a true neighbour we are certainly enhancing our reputation in the eyes of the One who truly matters.
Wishing you a blessed week ahead,
Bulletin this week:
16th Sunday in Ordinary Time
14th Sunday in Ordinary Time 07 July 2019
IT’S BEEN OVER four months since we saw green vestments at a Sunday Mass, the last Sunday in Ordinary Time being on 03 March. Since that Sunday we have celebrated Sundays in Lent and Easter, followed by Pentecost, Trinity Sunday, Corpus Christi and, last weekend, rather uniquely here in Britain, Saints Peter and Paul. When we last encountered Jesus on a Sunday in Ordinary Time, he was delivering his Sermon on the Plain, speaking of the hypocrisy of finding fault in others before dealing with one’s own shortcomings. Jesus used the famous imagery of splinters and logs in people’s eyes to make his message all the more compelling.
This weekend we skip forward several chapters past the Sermon on the Plain to the sending out of the seventy-two (or seventy depending on the translation). Between these two events, Jesus undertakes a series of healings, forgives the sinful woman at the house of Simon the Pharisee, preaches some parables, sends the twelve apostles on a mission, feeds the five thousand and is transfigured before Peter, James and John.
As Jesus sends out the seventy-two, he lays down some strict rules: they are to carry no purse, no haversack and no sandals and they are not to greet anyone on the road. These rules sound quite harsh to us but they are not strict for the sake of being strict. Jesus wants his disciples to be totally focused as they carry out their mission of peace and healing. Notice the nature of their mission: peace and healing. Jesus does not send out the disciples to preach doctrine or, in fact, to do anything that we would regard as ostensibly “religious”. He asks that they focus only on reconciling people with one another and God and healing those who are sick.
We need to remember that at this time there were no sacraments, and indeed no Church! Jesus is not sending out people who were specially prepared or consecrated for this role, he was sending out people who believed in him and his message. There is a temptation for many in the Church to believe that those who are “labourers for the harvest”, to use Jesus’s own words, are by necessity priests or deacons, lay missionaries or others with special training for this task. Yet, the seventy-two had none of this and nor did the apostles. The only qualification was a love for Jesus and a belief in him as the One sent by God. All of those with this qualification, and that would mean just about everybody reading this text, are obliged to share in the same mission as the disciples Jesus sent out ahead of him.
You might ask, how do we “do” healing and peace? We do this by being Christ to others, following his modelling of a loving presence in all situations, even, perhaps especially, those times when we feel least like loving. In the beatitudes, Jesus calls those people blessed who are merciful, peacemakers, and who hunger for righteousness. What better recipe for striving to make manifest God’s kingdom here and now
Wishing you a blessed week ahead,
Saturday 13 July: Vigil Mass for 15th Sunday, 5:00pm
Sunday 14 July: 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, NO MASS
Monday 15 July: St Bonaventure, Bishop, Doctor, NO MASS
Tuesday 16 July: Tuesday of Week 15, 6:30 pm
Wednesday 17July: Wednesday of Week 15, 9:30 am
Thursday 18 July: Thursday of Week 15, 9:30 am
Friday 19 July: Friday of Week 15, 7:00 am
Saturday 20 July Vigil Mass for 16th Sunday, 5:00pm