The chosen people
FIFTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
July 10, 2022
After Moses enjoined the Chosen People to keep the LORD’s commandments, he encouraged them by pointing out that the commandments were easily accessible. They were not hidden in the heavens or beyond the edge of the sea. No, the law to love God and neighbor was written right on their hearts, the words right on their lips. So too for us. The law of love is not beyond our reach, for it was planted in us in baptism. We know what we should do; we rely upon God’s grace in following through. It was perfectly rational for the priest and the Levite to do exactly what they did in the parable of the good Samaritan. They both had important responsibilities in the temple. If they were traveling to Jerusalem, it would have been very important that they maintain their ritual purity. The victim on the side of the road was half-dead. They would be considered unclean if they even came within four cubits of a dead body, so they couldn’t even get close enough to determine if he was still breathing or not. No wonder they hurried by on the opposite side. Both could easily rationalize their inaction by telling themselves that serving the Lord in the temple was more important than serving the stranger dying on the road. But rationalization is just a way that we use to explain or excuse something we do that we know is wrong. We rationalize rather than listen to our conscience. Though Jesus did not explicitly refer to this parable when he told his disciples about the last judgment, he could have said about those who he welcomed into the kingdom, “I was lying half-dead by the side of the road and you cared for me.” The priest and Levite could only see their Lord as present in the temple in Jerusalem; they failed to see him lying bleeding on the side of the road. Only the Samaritan was moved with compassion by what he could not fail to see: a fellow child of God in need of care and mercy. Can we see the Lord in a stranger in need? Amen. (Casey, Most Reverend Robert G. Pastoral Patterns. World Library Publication, 2022)
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