Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)
A good number of drivers won’t admit fault in driving even in situations of mishap. They think they are always right. So, when a driver hits another car, he makes 101 reasons why the other person is wrong. When a cop apprehends him for a violation, he makes a few reasons why he was not wrong. When something goes wrong with the car, he finds every indication to blame the car manufacturer, or blame somebody else for using the car. How many times have we justified ourselves for violation or error?
Watching games is interesting. It is even more interesting watching and listening to spectators. You hear comments, like: he should have done or not have done this or that; or he’s slow; or it was a lousy game; or something else. Spectators seem to be better players and coaches than those on the court. How many times have we thought that things should have been done our way?
This is true to many of us. We want to be drivers and spectators who think we’re always right or better than others; we want to be in control of situations and avoid responsibility, accountability and reprimand.
In the Gospel today, the lawyer tried to justify himself, and asked Jesus to explain who his neighbor was. He surely believed he was a law-abiding citizen, and probably thought that he was better than others. In the parable, the Levite walked away from the man attacked and left half-dead. The priest likewise did the same. The priest and the Levite were indifferent to the situation, and probably did not want to be seen helping somebody they did not know. They did not want any relationship with a foreigner.
The Samaritan broke the custom of the place. He picked up a man left half-dead by robbers, mindless of who the man was, whether a “Jew or a foreigner.” He couldn’t care less about the law of being “unclean” or was in another territory. For him, to help knew no bounds; he did not have to belong to a religious group. He broke the heartless silence of indifference and ignominy to bring about a situation of kindness and love.
We look at Jesus and His life. He broke the rules of the logic of the world:
– He was born into this world, so that we could inherit eternal life;
– He learned obedience, so that He could be our way to the Father;
– He healed the sick, raised the dead, drove out demons, so that in this world He would be our life, strength and salvation;
– He kept His calm before Pilate and Caiphas, for their words and authority were merely human and would only solve human affairs, while His words are truth and life that would bring all to His heavenly kingdom;
-He suffered and died to redeem us from the Evil One, so that we could have life in Him and have this Life to the full;
-He attached Himself to us, so that we can be detached from the things of the world, for attachment to the things of the world can be heavy and bring us deeper in our vices and sin, while His yoke is easy and His burden light, and can bring us to heights of holiness.
Many times we become prisoners of evil, of pride, jealousy, lust, greed and laziness. We become prisoners of others’ decision, allowing them to rule us, especially when we desire to wallow in the fleeting pleasures and contentment that they worship. We also become prisoners of lies and false propaganda when we do not get informed and formed in the truth and in trust in God, who is truth and wisdom Himself. Jesus and the Samaritan broke the rules of unconcern and indifference, to give way to the rule of Life: love and obedience, awareness of His presence and openness to His call. Jesus picks us up in our weakness and sinfulness, when we allow Him, and carries us on that cross of sin and shame, to bring us peace and life.
We thank the Father for giving us Jesus to show us His compassion, forgiveness and peace. We gather today to celebrate the Eucharist and to be nourished in our mission to “go and do likewise” (Lk 10:37), for his commandments and statutes (Dt 30:10) are very near to us, already in our mouths and in our hearts; we have only to carry it out (Dt 30:14). In his address at the Don Orione Center in Rome’s Monte Mario district on June 24, 2010, Pope Benedict VI said, Works of charity…. can never be reduced to a philanthropic gesture, but must always be a tangible expression of the provident love of God. To do this…. it is necessary to be “mixed with the most gentle charity of Our Lord” through an authentic and holy spiritual life. Only in this way is it possible to move from works of charity to the charity of works, because…. actually, works without the charity of God, that gives them value before Him, are worthless (zenit.org/article-29696).
Let us be signs of the compassion and fidelity of God to us, heed the voice of the LORD, our God, keep his commandments and statutes (Dt 30:10ff), and turn to the Lord in our need, and we will live (Resp. Psalm).