YEAR C: HOMILY/REFLECTION FOR THE 15TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
TOPIC: THE GOOD SAMARITAN
BY: Fr. Mike Lagrimas
Gospel: Luke 10:25-37 (Good Samaritan)
“Your Public Mission”
- The Marian Message
a) The Blessed Mother exhorts us about our mission, “Your Public Mission.” That mission is “public”, as opposed to “private”, which means not for our own, but principally for others.
b) Our mission is to share in the fulfillment of the plan of our Blessed Mother to defeat Satan, the enemy (letter e). In order to do this, we have to be intimately close to her so that we will first have our inner transformation: we ourselves will become the light that will drive away darkness of sin (letters f and g). In short, it is necessary that we become the good soil.
c) Part of this transformation is being close and obedient to the Holy Father, the Pope (letter k). This is to ensure that we remain united with the Church, and all our actions will always be in solidarity with the Church. So she reminds us to be docile at all times, following and obeying the teachings of Christ imparted to us by the Church under the leadership of the Pope (letter r).
d) Finally, she makes sure that all our acts of piety and devotion should be centered and directed towards Jesus in the Eucharist. Even our cenacle should be Eucharistic Cenacle (letter m).
e) Docility to Jesus and His Church, and being close to Jesus in the Eucharist will always entail a lot of sacrifice and sufferings. Though they truly please the Blessed Mother, she knows these will cost us a lot of sacrifices and sufferings (letter q). Hence, she calls us to be “apostles and new martyrs of Jesus, present in the Eucharist” (letter n). It should, therefore, come as no surprise to us that when we seriously promote and defend the Eucharist we become the targets of the attacks of the devil, we encounter ridicule, opposition and even persecutions. But this must not obstruct us from our public mission since we are the Lord’s apostles who must be ready to become martyrs for His sake.
f) Before the apostles were sent on their mission that even led to their martyrdom, they had first been gathered and trained in the cenacle. This was shown clearly in the first chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. This is also true with us (letter t). So she continues to invite us to faithfully join her in the Cenacle where she will form us, instruct us, and make us enter into her Immaculate Heart. This will make us ready to go on our public mission of defeating the devil, and hastening the triumph of her Immaculate Heart.
- The Sunday Readings
a) The first reading is from the Book of Deuteronomy (30:10-14). Literally, the name Deuteronomy means, “second law” (from the Greek “deutero” – second; and “nomos” – law). In this reading, Moses exhorts and reminds the people to follow the law of the Lord. He tells them that the law of God is already imprinted in our hearts and souls: “For this command which I enjoin on you today is not too mysterious and remote for you…. No, it is something very near to you, already in your mouths and in your hearts; you have only to carry it out.”
b) The Responsorial Psalm is the cry of hope of a person who awaits God’s protection and salvation: “Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation.” He looks forward to the day when, with the Lord’s coming, there will be peace, truth, justice, kindness and salvation. All these presuppose man’s obedience to God’s will and commands.
c) The second reading is from St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians (1:3-14). St. Paul praises God and extols the sublime dignity of man being so blessed in Jesus Christ: “Praised be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has bestowed on us in Christ every spiritual blessing in the heavens!” Then he summarizes man’s calling: “to be holy and blameless in his sight, to be full of love; he likewise predestined us through Jesus Christ to be his adopted sons.” And finally, he praised God for giving us the “wisdom to understand fully the mystery, the plan he was pleased to decree in Christ, to be carried in the fullness of time: namely, to bring all things in the heavens and on earth into one under Christ’s headship.”
d) The Gospel is the Parable of the Good Samaritan. It concretizes the lessons of the readings and the message of the Blessed Mother. God has only one commandment, according to Jesus, and that is love. The love of God is to be concretized in the love of neighbor. As Christians, it is our “Public Mission” according to the Blessed Mother’s message, to spread the message of love. This should come natural to us, as Moses explained to the Israelites, for love is already embedded in our being as God’s children. When everybody learns to obey and practice the commandment of love, God’s plan according to St. Paul, to unite all things under Christ, will become possible.
- Background Information
a) Parables are not simple stories. They teach not only valuable lessons, but they also contain hidden meanings. The Parable of the Good Samaritan is a good example. It teaches about love of neighbor, but there are symbolisms. Origen, a highly distinguished early Christian Church and scholar, described the allegory as follows:
“The man who was going down is Adam. Jerusalem is paradise, and Jericho is the world. The robbers are hostile powers. The priest is the Law; the Levite is the Prophets; and the Samaritan is Christ. The wounds are man’s disobedience; the beast is the Lord’s body; the inn, which accepts all who wish to enter, is the Church. …The manager of the inn is the head of the Church, to whom its care has been entrusted. And the fact that the Samaritan promises he will return represents the Savior’s second coming.”
b) In Jesus’ culture, contact with a dead body was understood to defile one. Priests were particularly enjoined to avoid uncleanness. The priest and Levite may therefore have assumed that the fallen traveler was dead and avoided him to keep themselves ritually clean. On the other hand, the parable states that the travel was downhill, that is, from Jerusalem to Jericho. This indicates that their temple duties had already been completed, making this explanation less likely, although this is disputed. Since the Mishnah (the first major written redaction of the Jewish oral tradition – also called the “Oral Torah”) made an exception for neglected corpses, the priest and the Levite could have used the law both to justify both touching a corpse and ignoring it. In any case, passing by on the other side avoided checking “whether he was dead or alive.” Indeed, it is clear that for these persons whose business was with holy things, they were more concerned with keeping themselves clean, and so the idea of checking whether the man was dead or alive poses for them a big risk of being defiled. Preserving their ritual cleanliness is more important than the welfare of another person.
- Points for Reflection
a) For some people, the Parable of the Good Samaritan is difficult to accept. For the Jews during the time of Jesus, there is no such thing as a Good Samaritan. For them, all Samaritans are bad. But the parable is teaching them the lesson that, just as not all Jews are good, so also, not all Samaritans are bad. This is a lesson against stereotyping, rash judgment and sweeping generalizations. There is no such thing as a totally bad group of people, or totally bad person. In each one of us, there is something good, for we are God’s creations, and there is something bad because we are weak and are prone to sin. We should not judge, so that we will not be judged. In our experience, it happened many times that the person whom we judged as bad turned out to be more helpful, and the person who looks nice and talks well is the one who took advantage of us.
b) “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus answered this question by telling the Parable of the Good Samaritan. This parable is a challenge to universal love. That is the meaning of being Catholic. The word “catholic” means universal. As members of the Catholic Church, we are expected to follow the example of Jesus whose love is for everyone – saints and sinners alike. In fact, he even has special care and love for sinners. So, every time we become choosy, biased and partial in our dealings with people, we are not true to our name as catholic, and most especially, we do not follow the example of Jesus. Read and reflect on the Letter of James 2:1-9.
c) The Levite and the priest did not go near the victim, not because they lacked compassion, and not because they did not care. But it was obvious that they had a different priority: they did not want to be ritually unclean. They did not want to come near the wounded man for they were not sure if he was alive or dead. If it happened that he was dead, that would mean they would be rendered unclean and had to undergo the tedious process of ritual cleansing. That means a lot of trouble for them. This happens to many of us. We have genuine compassion for the unfortunate persons, and we want to help. But we do not want to get involved; we do not want to get into trouble. Ayaw nating maabala at maperwisyo. Take for example the justice system. There are crimes that remain unsolved because there are no witnesses who are willing to testify. They witnessed the crime, and they know the perpetrators. But they are afraid to testify for that would put their person and family into trouble. Ayaw nating masangkot sa gulo. So, the criminal remains on the loose to commit another crime with impunity.
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