15th Sunday In Ordinary Time -
A Reflection by Fr. Leo
Today’s gospel, containing the story often referred to as the story of the Good Samaritan, has many levels of meaning. On the surface it reminds us that all peoples are our sisters and brothers. We are part of the human family and are called to be compassionate to all, even the stranger or those we perceive as against us.
For example: In the Orlando shooting we easily cry out for the victims, as we should, but are we not also called to understand what it was that lead the victimizer to act so horribly. Are we not also called to try and change what it is in our society that can lead some to such behavior? I think that is what today’s story calls us to if we look at this from a deeper level.
The audience would have listened to Jesus’ story and not been phased by the priest and the levite not stopping to help the man in the ditch. After all, their religious culture taught that they were not to touch the dead or people thought dead, because they had to be ritually clean to perform their sacrifices in the temple.
So when Jesus gets to the end of the story and asks who showed compassion, the obvious answer of the Samaritan was at the time a recognition of the systemic change that needed to take place in their religious culture, a culture that would allow someone to act without compassion.
Not only are we called to be people of compassion, we are also called to question what compassion means in our religious and cultural milieu. Is our religion and culture preventing us from being compassionate to all God’s people? Could the boundaries of our compassion grow and could we call our culture and Church to grow? And in what ways might those changes occur? These are some questions I believe we night ponder this week as we reflect on today’s gospel.