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15th Sunday in Ordinary Time - July 10, 2016

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          Three deacons were talking outside of the church after a wake.  The priest asked them what they hoped people would say about them as they lied in their casket.  The first said that he wanted to be remembered for being a good husband, father and grandfather; that’s what he hoped people would say about him.  The second said that he hoped people would say that he served the Lord well and made a difference in people’s lives.  The third said, he hoped people would say, “look, he’s moving!”

          Today’s readings challenge us to think about our priorities and how we live our faith, or as the scholar of the law put it – what we must do to inherit eternal life?  Jesus turns the question back to him asking him what the law says.  He quotes what is really at the center of our covenant relationship with God: “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.  Jesus then affirms him and his answer.  But the real test to Jesus comes in the next question of the scholar: “And who is my neighbor?”

There is so much packed into that parable we are so familiar with, we may not even pay enough attention to it to feel, hear and absorb Jesus’ point.  The victim was a Jew, stripped of his identity as a Jew and left there half dead.  The priest and levite notice him, but pass him by on the other side of the road.  I have read that they may have been heading to Jerusalem to the Temple to exercise their functions as priest and levite, and to touch a dead man would have made them unclean.  But as Jesus makes as a point time and time again, he is inferring that they don’t even stop to see if the man is dead or alive because their love of the law supersedes any shred of compassion they may have in their hearts.  Who repulses us making us “pass them by” without thinking twice? 

Remember that Jews and Samaritans HATE each other.  It is like the immediate distrust people feel when they identify a Muslim in a public area, and automatically think they might be in the presence of a suicide bomber.  For the hero in the parable to be a Samaritan who saved the life of a Jew would have not only shocked the scholar of the law and the audience, but insulted and infuriated them.  It was the despised Samaritan who was moved with compassion. 

So Jesus asked the scholar: “Which was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?”  The scholar could not even bring himself to say the word “Samaritan.” He only replies, “The one who treated him with mercy!” Then Jesus says, “Go and do likewise!”

Go and do likewise!  It is one thing to know something; it is entirely another thing to act on that knowledge.  Knowing alone takes us nowhere.  Doing on the other hand reveals who we are and what we stand for! 

We know that through the gift of grace that comes to us especially in the sacraments, and even more specifically in baptism, we receive eternal life.  We also know that we are responsible to our God by how we live that faith, how we express our gratitude for God’s mercy and love in how we treat other people.  We heard in the second reading from Paul’s Letter to the Colossians that:  “Jesus is the image of the living God, and that he made reconciliation and peace possible for us by the blood of his cross.” The manner in which we treat people, if you will how well we “Do Some Love,” is directly proportional to how well or not so well we reflect the face of Jesus to our world.  And if we are not reflecting the face of Jesus, and since none of our actions are neutral because when good people do nothing, evil grows, then we are reflecting the face of Satan!