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07/10/16 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Deacon Ron

Homily Summary for the 15th Sunday In Ordinary Time ~ Landry


In today's gospel Luke describes the injured man having been stripped of his clothing; which is the evangelist's way of telling us that passersby would know neither the man's nationality nor his social status.

And the two travelers merely pass by, indifferent to a human being in such dire need. It is no accident that the first two voyagers are portrayed as religious leaders. Note that the man is described as "half-dead". There is an ironic twist here, since the priest and the Levite would each be bound by ceremonial laws of purification. To risk touching the man who—if dead—would be a defilement of strict law and render them each forbidden to carry out any priestly function for the day. There is purposely introduced in the parable a real tension—to obey the strict religious law disallowed them to obey the law of love that Jesus preached.     

Scripture scholars point out that if the parable were merely about our responsibility to love and care for our neighbor, or even to call attention to the hypocrisy in religious leaders of their day, then it would suffice to portray the third passerby as any Jewish layperson. However, it is none other than a Samaritan who fulfills the law of love. The fact that the two people who would have been expected to serve as role models for correct behavior were so heartless, would certainly have been disturbing.

However, it cannot be overstated how shocking it would have been to those hearing the parable in that time and culture who the compassionate character in the story was. Hatred of Samaritans was generations old. What Jesus was preaching would fly in the face of the Jewish understanding of God and who God loves. This seemingly impossible contradiction would actually serve to reinforce the message of the Kingdom of God as preached by Jesus; one of mercy and love for all people, including—and especially—sinners and outcasts.

The Parable of the Good Samaritan is far more that it appears to be on the surface, however. What we witness here is a powerful message about everlasting life. Consider the question proffered by the scholar of law: "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" Theologically, this is significant, since the word "inherit" is used. Only a son can inherit from the father, clearly indicating that the individual asks how to become a child of God.

In typical Rabbinic style of discourse, Jesus answers the question with a question, asking: "How do you read it?" The expert in the law answers, "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength and with all your mind." And it is here that the Messiah, who came not to abolish the law, but to fulfill it, illustrates the conversion that is required to become a child of God—to inherit eternal life. Because the last verse is: "...and love your neighbor as yourself." The savior responds, "Do this and you will live."

There is a powerful significance to these last words. We have heard elsewhere in Sacred Scripture that the way to eternal life is belief in Jesus Christ: "Whoever...believes in me shall never die." In a sense, we are being admonished in this parable to not merely believe in Jesus Christ, but to "do" like Christ.



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