The 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time [C]
Deut 30:10-14 + Col 1:15-20 + Lk 10:25-37
July 14, 2019
“And who is my neighbor?”
In the year of Our Lord 529, Saint Benedict laid the foundation for one of the greater monasteries in the history of the Catholic Church. Monte Cassino, southeast of Rome, is both very accessible and very easy to spot as you journey towards it. It sits on the crest of a small mountain, surrounded on three sides by valleys.
One of Father Benedict’s most famous rules for his monks is that “in the person of the stranger, Christ is served”. Every person who knocks on the doors of a monastery is to be treated as if it were Jesus himself knocking on the door. Every year on July 11th, the Church celebrates one of the feast days of Saint Benedict, the father of monastic life in the West. St. Benedict exemplified in his life the invitation that Christ is making to the lawyer in today’s Gospel passage. Christ makes this same invitation to you and me.
Members of the Benedictine religious order, like all members of religious orders, take vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. The Benedictines, however, also take a fourth vow which distinguishes them: the vow of stability.
Benedictines are “tied” both to each other and to the stranger who finds them. That is what the parable of the Good Samaritan is about: being tied, being bound, being wedded to others.
We might imagine what was in this lawyer’s mind as he asked Jesus what he must “do to inherit eternal life”. Likewise, it’s easy to guess what sort of answer he was hoping to hear when he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Most likely he wanted Jesus to say something like: “Anyone within a one-mile radius is your neighbor.” In that case, the lawyer would have moved into a deserted area where he could buy four square miles, so that he could plant his house in the middle and have no one any closer than a mile to him. In other words, the passage implies that the lawyer asked his question in order to isolate himself from others. But Jesus’ parable only forces him—and us—into even closer contact with others. Jesus does this by telling His parable about the Good Samaritan.
To us today, the phrase “good Samaritan” is a common part of our Western culture. A “good Samaritan” is someone who helps another in need. This phrase, however, didn’t have that sort of meaning within the culture in which Jesus and the lawyer lived. To them, the phrase “good Samaritan” was an oxymoron, like talking about a “square circle” or a “good devil”. The idea of a “good Samaritan” was inconceivable to Jewish people of Jesus’ day, because the Samaritans were sworn enemies of anyone like Jesus who worshipped in the Temple in Jerusalem. The idea that a Samaritan would help someone going down to Jerusalem was beyond belief.
So the brief moral of this parable is that the person who’s looking to limit his love doesn’t know what love is really about. Putting limits upon whom we “have to love” is like saying that God loves some persons, but not others. But we know that God loves everyone, even if you and I do not always love everyone. We need to realize, then: if God loves someone, we should also, since we’re supposed to live in the Image and likeness of God. If there’s someone whom we do not love, that says that we’re not living our lives in the same way that God does.
click HERE to watch Jeff Cavins’ reflection for this liturgical Sunday (6:13)
click HERE to read a reflection for this Sunday by the Pontifical Household preacher,
Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa
click HERE to watch the homily of Archbishop Anthony Fisher, O.P. for this Sunday (13:26)
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click HERE to read Pope Francis’ 2016 Angelus address for this Sunday
click HERE to read Pope Emeritus Benedict’s 2007 Angelus address for this Sunday
click HERE to read St. John Paul II’s reflection upon the Good Samaritan in his 1984 apostolic letter Salvifici Doloris