Thoughts on the Readings for the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time (C) 2016

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. 

Our Gospel this Sunday contains the well known story of the Good Samaritan.   Jesus told this story in response to a “scholar of the law” who approached Jesus wanting to know what he must do to inherit eternal life.   Jesus asked the scholar what was written in the law and he replied:  “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being and with all your strength, and your neighbor as yourself.”  We are told that Jesus approved this answer, but then the scholar of the law asked a follow up question:  “And who is my neighbor.”   In response, Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan.  

There are three things to note in this story.  First, there was a great deal of antipathy between Jews and Samaritans.   The Samaritans were those Jews who stayed in Israel during the Babylonian captivity.   The Jews thought the Samaritans had polluted the Jewish religion.  The Samaritans believed something similar about the Jews.  The two groups hated each other and had nothing to do with one another.    Second, it is possible that the priest and the Levite passed by the man because they thought he might be dead.  Contact with a dead person would have rendered them ritually impure and unable to fulfill their temple obligations.   Third, notice that the scholar of the law couldn’t even use the word Samaritan to name the man who had helped the victim of robbers.  Instead when Jesus asked him who of the three was neighbor to the robbers’ victim he replied:  “The one who treated him with mercy.”    

It is easy for all of us to find excuses for not extending a helping hand to those in need.  Jesus is clear, though, that our “neighbor” is anyone who is in need.     

Our first reading this Sunday is taken from the Book of Deuteronomy.  In it Moses tells the people that the commandments and statues of the law are not “too mysterious and remote for you.  It is not up in the sky ………. Nor is it across the sea………. No, it is something very near to you already in your mouths and in your hearts.”    

Our second reading this Sunday is from the Letter of St. Paul to the Colossians.   In it Paul reminded the people of the preeminent and unique role of Jesus.   “Christ Jesus is the image of the invisible God, the first born of all creation.  For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers, all things were created through him and for him.”  

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
1.  Who has been “neighbor” to you?
2.  To whom are you being called to be “neighbor?” 
3.  What excuses do you make for not being “neighbor?”


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