Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
1) Dt 30,10-14
Psalm 69:14, 17, 30-31, 33-34, 36-37 or 19:8-11
2) Colossians 1:15-20
Gospel: Lk 10, 25-37
At the beginning of the war in Ukraine, the United Nations estimated that 4 million Ukrainians would leave their country. That number was a painful underestimate. As the war rages on, the UN now estimates that 12 million Ukrainians are in need of help and protection within their country, and more than 8 million refugees will take refuge in countries across Europe and around the world.
The Ukrainian people are well aware of the experience of the man in today’s Gospel parable who was the victim of robbers who stripped and beat him and left him half dead by the side of the road. Millions of refugees have been robbed of their lives, the safety of their homes, stable jobs, the stability of their communities and future dreams. Suffering from the violent and senseless aggression of war, they now depend on the compassion and kindness of strangers.
We know that countless Good Samaritans have opened their homes and lives to Ukrainian refugees. His example of love and compassion shows us that the Gospel message is not an abstract philosophy, but a concrete way of life that extends God’s mercy to those in need.
God’s word challenges us today to imitate the Good Samaritan and become people who extend God’s mercy and compassion to others, especially those in need. How do we live Jesus’ command to “go and do the same” in response to the scholar of the law who tested the Lord with the question, “And who is my neighbor?”
We grow in compassion and mercy when we listen to the word of God, which is “spirit and life”, as the psalmist sings. Moses tells the Israelites in the first reading: “If you only listen to the voice of the Lord your God, and keep his commandments and statutes which are written in this book of the law, when you return to the Lord your God, with all your heart and with all your soul.”
Then Moses reminds the people that the word of God is not a mysterious or remote word, inaccessible. Rather, the word of God “is something very close to you, already in your mouth and in your heart; you just have to carry it out.”
The second reading from Colossians is a beautiful hymn of praise to Jesus Christ. Saint Paul speaks of Jesus as “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. … All things were created through him and for him.”
Jesus is “the head of the body, which is the church,” in whom “it pleased all fullness to dwell, and to reconcile all things through him, making peace through him through the blood of his cross, both on earth like on earth. those who are in heaven.”
Jesus, Lord of heaven and earth, desires our friendship and invites us to imitate his path in daily Christian discipleship.
The challenge of today’s Gospel is not only to listen to the voice of Jesus, but to live his words, imitating his example of dedication of love and mercy. When we extend mercy and compassion to those in need, we become living reflections of the face of Jesus Christ in our world who live out the words we pray, “speak to me, Lord.”
How can you become an instrument of God’s mercy and compassion for someone in need?
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Sullivan is a professor at the Catholic University of America.