Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
'The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction, 'Take care of him. If you spend more than what I have given you, I shall repay you on my way back. 'Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbour to the robbers' victim?"(Lk 10:35,36)
We know the parable of the Good Samaritan very well, the beaten up half dead man, we sense the fear and perhaps disgust but also suspicion of the Priest and Levite who made a conscious decision not to interact, to move onto the opposite side to salve their consciences, 'did I see him?' but all too tellingly hurried on by; maybe wondering 'Is this a real robbery, is it a trap?'
Would you and I do this, well let's not pretend, I have and I think all of us have hurried on by at some point. In Oxford the numbers of homeless grow each week, they lie in doorways, often sleeping right out n the street, some overcome by whatever they have been imbibing and almost unconscious in the middle of the day. We all hurry on by because most of the time we know that there are good people working to help them and a confrontation with some of them is not a pleasant experience. I have to say I do talk to them or at least say hello and smile because that is an acknowledgement of common humanity, and many reciprocate and say hello back. There is a real dilemma here to, let's not suggest that the cause and solution is easy to find, it is complex and varied.
So listening to this parable, will my inner conscience be challenged? Of course it will, for Jesus is asking me as he does you, 'who is your be neighbour? 'Who are you to love as your self, and how are you to love?" Moses in the reading from Deuteronomy tells the People that they are to live the commandments of God, live not simply observe them, for Moses the commandments of God are within and about us not far off, not on the opposite side of our lives: 'No, it is something very near to you, already in your mouths and in your hearts;
you have only to carry it out." (Dt 30:14)
Jesus says much the same to the Scholar of the Law who quoted the great commandment: "He (Jesus) replied to him, "You have answered correctly; do this and you will live."(Lk 10:28)
What do we do? Well the answer lies in that last word of action, we 'do' something! We reach out, we pray yes, but we match that by loving activity. The wonderful hidden comment in this parable lies in that deeply committed response by the Samaritan, who has bound up the man's wound, taken him to security and safety, but then promises that this is no one off solution, 'I shall repay you on my way back', in other words I shall be back.!
It is fitting on July 14th, Bastille Day, when we also remind ourselves of the need to take care of the values of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity/Sorority of all peoples and creatures, that this Gospel is read. Christ reminds us that we discover him in the 'little ones' of life, in what we do to others and to our creation, yes the little ones of the animal kingdom too, all in our rather dubious care. To do it to the least is to do it to Him. And yes, he will be back to find out what we have done in love. 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'( Mt 25:40)
From Mother Maria of Paris ( Saint Maria Of Paris)
The way to God lies through love of people. At the Last Judgment I shall not be asked whether I was successful in my ascetic exercises, nor how many bows and prostrations I made. Instead I shall be asked did I feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick and the prisoners. That is all I shall be asked. About every poor, hungry and imprisoned person the Saviour says 'I': 'I was hungry and thirsty, I was sick and in prison.' To think that he puts an equal sign between himself and anyone in need. . . . I always knew it, but now it has somehow penetrated to my sinews. It fills me with awe.
Graham Greene, from The Power And The Glory
"Oh,' the priest said, 'that's another thing altogether - God is love. I don't say the heart doesn't feel a taste of it, but what a taste. The smallest glass of love mixed with a pint pot of ditch-water. We wouldn't recognize that love. It might even look like hate. It would be enough to scare us - God's love. It set fire to a bush in the desert, didn't it, and smashed open graves and set the dead walking in the dark. Oh, a man like me would run a mile to get away if he felt that love around."
Fr Robin is an Eastern Rite Catholic Chaplain for Melkites in the UK. He is also an Ecumenical Canon of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford.
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