Skip to main content

15th Sunday of Ordinary Time

What does God want of us?  It sounds like a daunting question, but it’s really not.  All of the 10 Commandments, all of the Mosaic Law, all of the teachings of Jesus, come down to just two things:  Love God.  Love you neighbor.  But to quote the Lord from Exodus, we are a “stiff necked people.”  Our readings this week remind us that loving our neighbor is our ticket to salvation.


Deuteronomy 30:10-14
Psalm 69:14, 17, 30-31, 33-34, 36, 37 or 19:8, 9, 10, 11
Colossians 1:15-20
Luke 10:25-37

Our first reading is from the book of Deuteronomy.  This is the book that most scholars believe was presented by King Josiah during the 7th century BCE in his attempts to reform the people back to the Lord.  In this passage, we hear Moses telling the people of Israel that God’s wishes for his people are not some remote or inaccessible dream, but are instead quite obvious… Love your neighbor.  Moses reminds us that we know this already, in our minds and in our hearts.  We just need to carry it out.

The lectionary gives us an option for the Psalm this Sunday, but whether we sing “Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live.” or if we sing “Your word, Lord, are Spirit and life,” the message is the same… in God we find life.  Life that is ours for the taking, so long as we can find it in ourselves to follow God’s command and love our neighbor.

Our Gospel from Luke continues this theme.  Here our passage has a “scholar of the Law” questioning Jesus about what it takes to inherit eternal life.  True to form, Jesus turns the question back to the scholar, who answers, in short, to love God, and to love your neighbor.  But this “scholar of the Law” is the equivalent of a modern day lawyer, and we all know that any good lawyer not only knows what’s in the law, but what’s not in the law.  So this scholar poses the question to Jesus, “who is my neighbor?”  Jesus then give us the Parable of the Good Samaritan, a well known story unique to Luke’s Gospel.  A man is robbed and beaten on the highway and left for dead.  Both a priest and a Levite (both obviously Jewish) go to some effort to avoid the obviously injured man, but a Samaritan (a non-Jew) sees the man and helps him.  At the conclusion of the story Jesus asks the scholar who it was that was a good neighbor to the man on the road.  The answer is obvious, and instructs him, instructs us, to do likewise.

Our second reading begins a four week study of St. Paul’s letter to the Colossians, and actually serves as a nice complement to our other readings.  Here the new Church was struggling with Jesus' role within the cosmos (not surprising given the pagan practices of this region in the heart of modern day Turkey), which in Paul’s mind was keeping them from the real work of the Gospel:  to love one another.  In this introductory excerpt, Paul addresses these issues up front in an effort to put them to rest… quite simply, that Jesus is at the center of everything.  From there, he is now free to explore what it means to be a member of the Body of Christ.

Final thoughts:
Who is my neighbor?  The scholar of the Law was trying to test Jesus by exploiting what he thought was a loop-hole in the Law.  In other words, if you’re not my “neighbor” then I don’t owe you anything.  Jesus, rightly taught us otherwise, but we, like this scholar, seem to consistently want to narrow our definition of who is “my neighbor.”  A “neighbor,” after all, is someone who’s “close” to us.  Someone who lives near us, someone who looks like us, shares our beliefs and customs.  It’s this narrow view of “neighbor” that allows us to discriminate, to marginalize, and to avoid.  But Jesus, through this parable, teaches that we are all neighbors, differences and all.  That we owe a duty to those who are different from us.  That those neighbors are also God’s creation and deserving of the same love that we would grant to those who are closer to us.  In a nation and a world that seems more divided than ever, it would do us well to remember this parable and live as the Lord has taught us… difficult though that may be, but it will lead us to salvation.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

3rd Sunday of Advent

The third Sunday of Advent marks the midpoint of the season… in Catholic terms, this is like “hump day”, where we happily see that the conclusion of our journey is within sight.  Referred to as Gaudete Sunday, it takes its name from the Latin word for rejoice.  We will hear this word several times throughout this Sunday's Mass in our prayers and our readings.  We light the rose colored candle on our Advent wreaths, rose being a mixture of Advent violet and Christmas white.  Not only is Christmas a joyous occasion to celebrate the birth of our Lord, but it reminds us that we are joyous (not fearful) of his return.


The Word for the 3rd Sunday of Advent Isaiah 61:1-2a, 10-11
Luke 1:46-48, 49-50, 53-54
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
John 1:6-8, 19-28

We open with a great announcement from Third Isaiah, that the anointed brings glad tidings to the poor.  If his words sound familiar, they should.  Not only are they reminiscent to the announcement made by the angels to the shepherd in th…

4th Sunday of Lent

This Sunday we continue our Lenten journey through Salvation History with a continued focus on covenant.  We’ve already given witness to the covenants with Noah, Abraham, and Moses.  This week we turn our attention to the Davidic Covenant (the covenant with King David), or more accurately, the covenant with the monarchy of Israel.


The Word for the 4th Sunday of Lent 2 Chronicles 36:14-16, 19-23
Psalms 137:1-2, 3, 4-5, 6
Ephesians 2:4-10
John 3:14-21

Our first reading comes from the end of the 2nd book of Chronicles.  Though our intent this Sunday is to remember the Davidic Covenant, our Lectionary has chosen an interesting approach.  Rather than give us a story about King David, we are presented with a story  from the end of the Babylonian Exile.  Why approach the covenant with David from this tail-end view? 

It’s an approach that actually fits very well with the Book of Chronicles, for you see, the Book of Chronicles is much more than a retelling of the story we heard in books …

Nuns and Nones... continued...

On 6-24-2016 I wrote a brief commentary on what we call the "nones"... that is, those people who check the box that says "none" when asked about their religious affiliation.  That commentary was based on an address by my former high school's principal at their 2016 graduation address.  But this topic of the "nones" returned to my attention with this article posted on our daily Angelus News email from the e-magazine Crux:

Notre Dame debuts digital platform to reach young Catholics, ‘nones’
Please take a moment to read it... 

Of particular interest is the increasing number of "nones," those people who claim no religious affiliation. I first heard this term a few years back from one of the speakers at our LA Religious Education Congress. The term itself grew out of a 2012 Pew Research study that showed this rising trend. Working as I do with the RCIA and Adult Faith Formation, this was a known issue, but the Pew study validated what ma…