FIFTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
In the first reading, Moses reminds the Israelites that the law of God is “already in your mouths and in your hearts.” This truth is echoed by the lawyer in the Gospel who readily quotes the law. Jesus, echoing Moses, urges the lawyer to do what he already knows. The compassionate action of the Good Samaritan reveals to us the “image of the invisible God” which Paul speaks about in the second reading.
FIRST READING: Deuteronomy 30:10-14
This is an excerpt from Moses’ farewell speech to the Israelites in which he instructs them about the importance of the law and its accessibility. He exhorts them to commit themselves to the Lord by observing his commandments. Previously, these commandments were considered as external to them; now they are presented as springing from within themselves. They are written in the people’s hearts and not far away from them. They can be understood by anyone who is open to God.
SECOND READING: Colossians 1:15-20
This is the first of four readings from Colossians that we will listen to in the coming Sundays. This reading is an excerpt from an early Christian hymn which focuses on the divine nature and prerogatives of the risen Christ, rather than on his humanity. These verses underscore the cosmic role, superiority and significance of Christ. Christ is the icon or visible presence of God in our midst. As the wisdom of God present at the creation of the world, Christ is God’s “blueprint plan” as ordered. All things are made through him and for him. All things are designed to be in him. Christ is also Head of the Church. Despite the lofty images Paul uses to speak of Christ, he ends by grounding them in the historical reality of Christ’s sacrificial death on the Cross, the redemptive event that stands at the heart of his Lordship over all creation.
GOSPEL: Luke 10:25-37
In this well-known parable, a scholar of the law seeks to embarrass Jesus by challenging his knowledge of the law. Jesus turns the lawyer’s challenge back on him by asking him to answer his own question. Jesus answers the lawyer’s second question―“Who is my neighbor?”―by telling a parable that affirms that one’s neighbor is any person in need―irrespective of class, race, color or creed.
We should note that the priest and the Levite in the story are not the cold-hearted people that they are often made out to be. If they touched what seemed like a dead corpse, they would have incurred ritual defilement and thus be unable to carry on their duties at the Temple. Then comes a Samaritan, a half-cast and despised by Jews. But this supposedly good-for-nothing fellow is moved by great compassion for the man who is almost dead. He treats him with great care and tenderness and pays for his care at the local inn. The lawyer who tried to trick Jesus is now forced to recognize that his enemy is the one who showed love for the person in need. Jesus ends by exhorting all to “go and do likewise.” Christianity is not a spectator’s sport; it is a call to compassionate action.
Name one Good Samaritan you know. What makes the person a Good Samaritan?