Fifteenth Sunday Ordinary Time 2013 The Good Samaritan

So, last week we heard ...

The seventy-two returned rejoicing, and said,
“Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name.”
Jesus said, “I have observed Satan fall like lightning from the sky.
Behold, I have given you the power to ‘tread upon serpents’ and scorpions
and upon the full force of the enemy and nothing will harm you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you,
but rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”

Scripture readings for this Sunday's Mass are here.

The Gospel is the Parable of The Good Samaritan.

 This is a great reflection on the readings today from here 

Image source
Most images of the Good Samaritan from here

 Two fine reflections from Fr. Ron Rolheiser on the theme of the Gospel :

  • A brilliant reflection from Dominican Fr. Timothy Radcliffe here.

Jesus was addressing his points in this parable to his fellow mainstream Jews and Fr. Radcliffe points out that the Samaritan was a Jew, but would have been considered an outcast and a heretic. 

The Good Samaritan - James Tissot

The reason being that Samaritans were Jews who had been left behind, hundreds of years before, when most of the Jews were taken off to Babylon as slaves. 

Those left behind intermarried with Assyrians but kept their original faith. The Babylonian Jews eventually came back and built the Temple in Jerusalem, but the Samaritan Jews didn't accept  the changes that the Babylonian captivity had wrought on the main body of Jews. 

The Samaritans built a rival temple on Mt Gerizim, which is where they thought Abraham offered to kill his son Isaac and was given a ram to sacrifice instead. Mainstream Jews thought it happened on a different mountain, Mt. Moriah, where they built their more famous Temple. 

So it's interesting that Jesus chose someone who would have been considered to have had the "wrong beliefs" as the good man !

The context for Jesus telling the story is that a Jew who is skilled in the law has asked Jesus what he must do to get to heaven. Jesus asks him what the Torah tells him to do. The man says the most important commandments are to love God and one's neighbour. Jesus says, then do it. The man asks: but who is my neighbour? That was a topic of debate among Jews at the time: who is close enough to me that I owe him good treatment, who is my neighbour? 

The "shock value of the story" to the questioner in this parable (who was skilled in the Jewish Law of the Torah,) is that the man who believes the wrong thing but does the right thing is the one who inherits eternal life.

 Be a good neighbour to anyone who is suffering.

  • My own reflections on this gospel from 2010 are here.
  • and from 2012 are here.

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