Weekly Reflection 7/14/19
Fifteenth Sunday In Ordinary Time
July 13-14, 2019
Today’s Gospel story is usually referred to as the story of the Good Samaritan. But the person at the center, the one who needs to learn something, is the lawyer. He needs to learn that you have to climb into another person’s skin and walk around inside before you can understand them. Our lawyer is more concerned with himself.
The first thing Jesus noticed about the lawyer’s stance was that he didn’t understand the Torah (the Law). The purpose of the Law is to bring people closer to one another and to God. His attitude is expressed in his question: “What must I do to inherit everlasting life?” Jesus sees that our lawyer doesn’t understand that one doesn’t earn an inheritance. It isn’t a reward for effort or achievement. When Jesus asks him how he understands the Law, he recites chapter and verse. He knows the Law, but the Law hasn’t permeated his heart, soul and actions. Immediately following, he asks: “Who is my neighbor?” Or put another way, what are the limits…just how far does this neighbor business go?
Jesus tells a story. A fellow was mugged and everything he had was taken. When people of his own kind came along, they didn’t understand that he was one of them and kept their distance. Then a contemptible foreigner saw the wounded victim. Took stock of the situation, assessed what he had, took pity and understood that he had a responsibility. He put no limits on what he would do to fulfill it.
It seems to me asking two very different questions can shape our decision to be neighbor. “If I help this person, what will happen to me?” or “If I don’t help this person, what will happen to him/her?
How we respond makes all the difference.