Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (José Antonio Pagola)

Ross Reyes DizonHomilies and reflections, Year CLeave a Comment

Author: José Antonio Pagola · Year of first publication: 2016.
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So that he may not come out looking bad in a conversation with Jesus, a scholar of the law ends up asking him, And who is my neighbor? The question comes from someone who only worries about fulfilling the law. He is interested in knowing whom he ought to love and whom he can exclude from his love. He is not thinking of people’s suffering.

Jesus spends his life relieving the suffering of those he meets on the way. He breaks the law about the Sabbath, when necessary, or the rules about purity.  He now answers, with a story, the person asking the question. The story provocatively denounces all religious legalism that ignores love for those in need.

Bandits have attacked a man on the road that comes down from Jerusalem to Jericho. Beaten and robbed of everything, the man lies by the roadside half-dead, left to his fate. We do not know who he is, only that he is a human person. He could be any one of us, any human being brought down by violence, illness, misery or despair.

A priest happens to show up along the road.  The text indicates that it is a chance occurrence, as if a man dedicated to worship has no business being there. His job is not to bend down to the wounded along the roadside. His place is the temple. His occupation has to do with sacred celebrations. When the priest gets closer to the wounded man, he sees him, and he passes by on the opposite side.

His lack of compassion is not just a personal reaction, since a temple Levite likewise comes near the wounded man, and when he sees him, he passes by on the opposite side. It is rather an attitude and a danger that hound those who dedicate themselves to the world of the sacred—the attitude and danger of living far from the real world where people struggle, work and suffer.

When religion is not centered in a God who is a Friend of life and the Father of those who suffer, worship of the sacred can become an experience that is so distant from profane life, has no direct contact with people’s suffering, and makes us walk unresponsive in the face of wounded people we see along the roadside. According to Jesus, it is not the men dedicated to worship who can best indicate to us how we ought to treat those who suffer, but rather the people who have heart.

Along the road comes a Samaritan. He is not from the temple. He does not even belong to the chosen people of Israel. He gives his life to something that is hardly sacred as he is a small merchant. But when he sees the wounded man, he does not ask himself if he is a neighbor or not. He is moved with compassion and does all he can for him. This person is the one we should imitate. Thus says Jesus says to the law expert, Go and do likewise. Whom will we imitate when we meet on the way the victims most beaten down by today’s economic crisis?

July 10, 2016
15 O.T. (C)
Luke 10, 25-37

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