Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 10, 2016
9/10 July 2016 correcting our vision
Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Ps 19:8, 9, 10, 11
I had the chance to go to a training class last month at work. The class taught us how to use a new computer program. As I listened to the instructor there seemed to be a pattern. In each section of the training we were told:
WHAT we were going to do
- WHY it was important to do this
- HOW to do it…and then we finally got to
- PRACTICE what we learned
I suspect this teaching style has been used for many years. In fact, the readings this weekend are in a similar format.
The first reading from the Old Testament helps us understand WHAT we should be doing:
- We should heed the voice of the Lord and
- Keep His commandments
The next step in our lesson this weekend is understanding WHY this is important. Our Psalm today can help us there:
- God’s law is perfect and refreshing for the soul
- It gives wisdom, rejoices the heart and enlightens the eye
- God’s words are more precious than gold and sweeter than honey
Now that we have heard about THE WHAT and THE WHY… let’s get into THE HOW.
HOW does God expect us to follow His commandments? This is exactly what the scholar in the Gospel was asking Jesus about. He was testing Jesus with his questions and he probably got more of an answer than he wanted. It seemed clear for the scholar that he should love God and love his neighbor but he wanted to justify his vision of the law. His vision may have been distorted by the intolerance and bigotries of that time. He may have been looking for a neat and tidy definition when he asked, “who is my neighbor?” and I suspect he was disappointed.
The answer Jesus gave us was far from neat and tidy. The ideas in the parable of the Good Samaritan would have been completely out of sight for His listeners. After being misguided for generations their hearts had been hardened and their vision of God became blurred.
The DETAILS of this parable would have meant more to his audience at that time but we can step through it based on a commentary I read:
- The parable takes place on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho. Apparently it was a very dangerous road for travelers. It was a journey of 17 miles with a vertical drop of 3200 feet. The narrow rocky road would have had several places where a traveler could be ambushed by robbers.
- The Jewish man who was robbed would have known this and was foolish for traveling alone while carrying valuables. Depending on how you look at it, this man had no one to blame but himself.
- The priest saw the injured traveler but passed by without helping. If the traveler would have been dead, the priest would have been considered unclean for 7 days after touching the body. He seemed to be more concerned about losing his place in the Temple liturgy than helping someone in need.
- Next we have the Levite. He saw the injured traveler but passed by without helping. He may have been worried the wounded man was really a decoy. Decoys were often used by robbers to lure someone into a trap. Concerned about his safety, the Levite continued left the scene of the crime.
- The Samaritan as you may know would have been the natural adversary of the injured Jewish traveler. If the tables were turned, there was little chance a Jew would help a Samaritan. Fortunately the Samaritan was more concerned about helping someone in need than he was about tradition or racism. When the Samaritan saw the injured traveler he must have realized the man got into trouble with his own careless behavior. Despite this, the Samaritan was moved by compassion when he saw the injured man and did everything he could to nurse him back to health.
Just like my computer training now that we know THE WHAT, THE WHY and THE HOW. The only thing left is PRACTICE.
- How can we practice the lessons from the Good Samaritan?
- Are there more opportunities to be a Good Samaritan than we realize?
I believe the key to being a Good Samaritan is in our vision. How do we see the world around us?
The priest and the Levite both saw the injured traveler with their eyes but in their mind they only saw an inconvenience or risk.
The parable tells us the Good Samaritan saw the injured traveler and was moved with compassion. In his heart he saw an injured brother who needed his help.
This situation of 2 different people seeing the same thing but reacting completely different is a harsh reality. The recent events in our world have been full of violent actions taken by people who seem to have a very narrow and distorted vision. There are many examples now and in our history where people have been misguided and have grown blind to the suffering of others and the sanctity of life.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. There are many examples in our community where Good Samaritans have made a difference and we need to continue that work. In our own parish the Social Justice Committee and St. Vincent de Paul work hard to look at our community through the lens of faith and see our brothers and sisters in need.
This parish has been very generous with their contributions to these groups. Please also consider donating your time and talents as well.
After telling the parable of The Good Samaritan, Jesus told us to “go and do likewise”. We should consider ways to practice that in our daily lives. Let us ask God for the strength and patience we need to do this. May He help us see clearly with the eyes of our heart every opportunities to be a Good Samaritan.