15th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2019


Most of us - have had the blessing - of running into a “Good Samaritan” – people who helped us jump-start our car – gave us directions when we were lost – went out of their way - to give us a hand.

We all depend on Good Samaritans - we need Good Samaritans - for our society to survive.

Notice how the gospel unfolds. The lawyer – a scholar of the Law – to test Jesus – asks – “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus replies, “What does the law say?” The lawyer responds by reciting the commandments – they are the way to eternal life – he knew that and so do we. In other words - it’s not hidden in some secret book or prayer – it’s in the Gospels - for everyone to read – to love God and to love neighbor – is the way to eternal life.  

The lawyer then asks a typical legal question – “Who is my neighbor? To whom do I have a responsibility? - the implication being, “Who is not my neighbor? who am I excused from caring about – who can I avoid?”

To answer - Jesus tells the gospel parable we just heard.

Our neighbor - is the person in need - who crosses our path. We try to avoid - the powerful challenge - of that simple truth. We may say, “Care about your neighbor?” –  “Sure – but not my neighbors.” – ‘Forgive your enemies?” “Right - but not the people who hurt me.” In other words - when the challenge of the Gospel becomes concrete – specific, local and personal – we try to find ways to avoid it. The people - who passed by the man in the ditch – were not vicious. They probably felt sorry for the man. They would have agreed - that we should help our neighbor – but not this one – not now – maybe the next one?

It’s so easy for us - to avoid the call of the gospel - when it becomes specific and local. The man on the side of the road reminds us that the will of God – the way to holiness – the imitation of Christ – discipleship – being a practicing Catholic – is found here & now in this husband - this wife – this family – this neighborhood – this parish – this job – this project – these people – these friends – these strangers. The test of our love for neighbor is what we do with the person at the side of the road – the need that crosses our path. That need may be money – our time – our compassion – our advice – the needs are many.

The commandment - to love one’s neighbor - is not about who are our neighbor is – but who we are.

We are made in the image and likeness of God – therefore – we must act like God.  So Jesus tells us:  you be the kind of person - who helps any needy human being - that you are in a position to help.