A Reflection for the 15th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year C).
Deuteronomy 30:10-14 – Colossians 1:15-20 – Luke 10:25-37.
The parable of the Good Samaritan is specific to Luke’s Gospel. In this parable, we find Jesus’ explanation of who a neighbour should be.
The background to this parable is the zeal of the lawyer to justify himself before Jesus, maybe as a good man who keeps the Law or to ensure that he knows everything about a neighbour.
Besides this is the background of Jesus’ answer, which we have today in the 1st reading, where God tells us that should be the seat of the written law. God said, This Law is not beyond your reach; in fact, “the word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart for your observance.” So for Jesus, when you want to interpret the Law, we shouldn’t just look at it as principles written in stone, or else we begin to react towards each other as stones (having no feelings or affection, and being mean), but instead, we take this Law and write it in our hearts as we read it so that we keep to it with passion.
With this in mind, we may remember Jesus summarizing the law as love of God (Deut.6:5) and love of neighbour (Lev 19:18). But obviously, the law about neighbour focused on what you should not do to your neighbour (Lev 19:9-18). So those who practice this love of neighbour from this perspective of avoidance may succeed in not doing evil to the neighbour, but will not succeed in doing any good because there is no passion. There is only a strict observance of the written law in the stones. So Jesus came today to complement this law of love for our neighbour by drawing us to how this law about our neighbour is written in the heart.
Who then is my neighbour? Is there any group of people you include and those you exclude as your neighbour? How much do you involve your heart in understanding and practising God’s will?
In the strictest sense, my neighbour is anyone whose life affects mine and whose life is affected by mine. In Jesus’ explanation today, a neighbour is anyone in need and anyone who addresses the need of another. How much do we recognise the needy in our environment?
Sometimes, we tend to exclude some people from the list of those to whom we can show kindness. There may be some people we do not love, those we think that maybe our lives would never cross paths with, or those we feel do not have the same social status as ourselves. Sometimes, we exclude people based on religion, race, sex or sexual orientation, and so on. The Gospel reading showed us these with the example of the Priest and the Levite. But Jesus wants us to emulate the good Samaritan.
Jesus could have used other people to explain the neighbour rather than a Samaritan. But for any Jew, it was more meaningful to use a Samaritan because of the hatred between Jews and Samaritans. For a Jew, a Samaritan is someone they should never involve themselves with, whether they are in need or not.
How can you read the Law in your heart? Always ask yourself, since my neighbour implies those whose lives are affected by me and those whose lives affect mine, how will I impact their lives in such a way that it would please me if it is done to me? That is how you can look into your heart and always do good toward others.
Remember, whatsoever you do to others will return to you. Is there anyone to whom you plan to show some love? Think of the needy! Amen. God bless you!