Year C: 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time
The Gospel: Luke 10: 25-38
The parable of the Good Samaritan is another of those Gospel Readings that we know well - so well that there is a temptation to switch off! One of the beauties of Scripture, though, is that, however often you read it, there is always something new. It may be a word that suddenly stands out - or a thought or new insight that comes to mind. Each time you hear or read a Scripture story, you bring something new to it - you are not the same person who heard it last time.
So, in the Gospel today - what is Jesus offering to us.
Just before this Reading, Jesus has praised God for hiding “these things” from the learned and clever and revealing them to mere children...so it is not a surprise that one of the learned and clever should try to disconcert Jesus and put Him on the spot.
The lawyer knows the Law inside out - and Jesus refers the question back to him - what does the Law say about inheriting eternal life?
The lawyer quotes from Hebrew Scriptures (Deut. 6:5 & Lev. 19:18) and says that the answer is to love God with all our heart and mind and soul and strength and our neighbour as ourselves. Jesus says in effect that that is all that is needed...but the lawyer pushes his point - “ah yes - but who is my neighbour?”
He is rewarded with a parable that left him feeling put on the spot.
Jesus tells the story of the traveller set upon by thieves and left stripped and beaten. Along come two worthy examples of Law-keepers - a priest and a Levite. They see the man and pass by on the other side. They may have had good cause - if the man had been dead, touching him would have defiled them and they would not have been able to exercise their ministries until they had been purified again. The Samaritan was under no such constraint - he saw a need and acted on it.
The irony was that Jews despised Samaritans - a long complicated story. This detestation was so strong that, when Jesus asks who proved a neighbour, the lawyer can’t even bring himself to say “Samaritan”.
It is easy to imagine Jesus smiling as he then tells the lawyer to go and act - not like the priest or Levite in the story - but like the Samaritan...
What does it mean for me?
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