Reflections

FIFTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, JULY 14, 2019 

Jesus in the Faces of the Needy
1. The Law Is in Your Heart
2. Prove Yourself a Neighbour 

Introduction
1. The Law Is in Your Heart
Love is the core and meaning of life; it is also the summit of the commandments. We know this. But the question is: How genuine and deep is our love? The test will be how far we are willing to be inconvenienced by it, to “lose” time for it, to go out of our way for it, and to have a heart for strangers and misfits too. Jesus is with us here: he was moved with compassion at the sight of sinners, the sick and the suffering. Let us ask him, the first Good Samaritan, to make us good neighbours to all who need us. 

2. Prove Yourself a Neighbour
It is easy to pray for all the people who are suffering and in need, but Jesus asks of us today: “What do you do for them?” It is easy if we have the means to just write a cheque and send it, for then we are not bothered any further. But Jesus asks us: “Are you willing to make personal contact and to make your hands dirty for them?” We ask Jesus today for the heart and the will to make ourselves the neighbours of the needy. 

First Reading: The Law of the Heart
God calls us to be converted to him and to obey him and his commandments. For God is near to us and his law is written in our hearts. 

1 Reading: Deuteronomy 30:10-14
Moses said to the people: “If only you would heed the voice of the LORD, your God, and keep his commandments and statutes that are written in this book of the law, when you return to the LORD, your God, with all your heart and all your soul. “For this command that I enjoin on you today is not too mysterious and remote for you. It is not up in the sky, that you should say, ‘Who will go up in the sky to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?’ Nor is it across the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross the sea to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?’ No, it is something very near to you, already in your mouths and in your hearts; you have only to carry it out.” 

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 69:14, 17, 30-31, 33-34, 36, 37
R. (cf. 33) Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live.

I pray to you, O LORD,
for the time of your favor, O God!
In your great kindness answer me
with your constant help.
Answer me, O LORD, for bounteous is your kindness:
in your great mercy turn toward me. R.

I am afflicted and in pain;
let your saving help, O God, protect me.
I will praise the name of God in song,
and I will glorify him with thanksgiving. R.

Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live.
“See, you lowly ones, and be glad;
you who seek God, may your hearts revive!
For the LORD hears the poor,
and his own who are in bonds he spurns not.” R.

For God will save Zion
and rebuild the cities of Judah.
The descendants of his servants shall inherit it,
and those who love his name shall inhabit it. R.

Second Reading: God Is Near to Us in Christ
This is what an ancient hymn to Christ tells us: How near God wanted to be to people became visible in his Son Jesus Christ; Jesus is the head of all creation and of all those he saved by his love. 

2 Reading: Colossians 1:15-20
Christ Jesus is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things he himself might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile all things for him, making peace by the blood of his cross through him, whether those on earth or those in heaven. 

Alleluia: Cf. John 6:63c, 68c
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life;
you have the words of everlasting life.
R. Alleluia, alleluia. 

Gospel: Luke 10:25-37
There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test him and said,
“Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read it?” He said in reply, You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself.” He replied to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.” But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbour?” Jesus replied, “A man fell victim to robbers as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. They stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half-dead. A priest happened to be going down that road, but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. Likewise a Levite came to the place, and when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight. He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them. Then he lifted him up on his own animal, took him to an inn, and cared for him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction, ‘Take care of him. If you spend more than what I have given you, I shall repay you on my way back.’ Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbour to the robbers’ victim?” He answered, “The one who treated him with mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” 

Commentary
“Do this and you will live,” said Jesus to the teacher, referring to the answer the teacher had just given him. At the end of the reading he says again, “Go and do the same.” Those scribes or teachers of the Law loved to quote texts, as this one does in today’s reading. Life isn’t a theory, or a quotation or piece of Scripture, Jesus seems to say to him.
In western Christianity theology became a university subject, while in the East it continues to come in large measure from monasteries. This marks its character profoundly. While in the East, spirituality remained at the very heart of theology, in the West it became a Cinderella subject. But what is theology without spirituality? It is just theory or philosophy, and it tends to be unrelated to the lives of most people. At an ecumenical meeting recently a western professor of theology remarked in passing that theology was based on philosophy; to which an oriental replied that he had always believed it to based on the Scriptures!
Holiness of life can never be pushed to the side in theology. “Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love,” wrote St. John (1 Jn 4:8). Before the Faith was called ‘Christianity’ it was called “the Way” (Acts 19:9). It is a way of life before it is a way of thinking. The real test is in the field of action. 

Blessing
Several people saw the man
who lay half-dead by the side of the road,
but it was a stranger who came and took pity on him.
Go and help people around you
who are suffering, humiliated, beaten by life.
Lift them up, bind their wounds,
waste your time on them,
and give them the best of yourselves,
with the blessing of almighty God,
the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. R/ Amen.
Let us go and love one another
as the Lord loves us. R/ Thanks be to God. 

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