Sunday, July 15, 2007

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dt 30:10-14
Col 1:15-20
Lk 10:25-37

A man was traveling from one town to another. Along the way he falls prey to robbers, who take his possessions, beat him, and leave him for dead along the side of the road. The one person who stops to help him, the one person who shows mercy, the one person who acts with love, is surely the last person our crime victim would have expected. A Samaritan, undoubtedly this man’s sworn enemy, is the only one to show love to the man who was beaten. These people lived in a very polarized world. Either you were good, or you were evil. Either you are with us, or you are against us. There was little room for a middle ground. Yet from this highly polarized world, emerges one who transcends that polarization, who rises above ethnic, religious, racial differences, to care for someone who probably could not stand him. If the tables were turned, it is doubtful our victim would come to the aid of his savior. When Jesus used this example it must have shocked his listeners. How could a Samaritan be capable of such an act? Either you are with us, or you are against us, they lived in a very polarized world.
The world we live in today is just as polarized. We are, after all, a people at war. Other people are either good or they are evil. Either they are with us or they are against us. War pushes us to place someone in the role of the other, someone so evil that there can be no redeeming quality to them. Yet that enemy is a human being, a person just like us, a child of God, just like us. War pushes us to deny the enemy’s humanity. After all they hate us, they want to kill us, indeed they have already tried, all too successfully. The human response is to hate back, right? The human response is to return hate for hate, right? The Samaritan undoubtedly realized that the man he was helping quite likely despised him. He could have just as easily passed him by. Yet the Samaritan chose to act in the truly human way, by rising above prejudice, by rising above religious and ethnic differences, and returning love for hate. Yes, there are those who hate us. Yes, there are those who may indeed wish us dead. They have pushed us into war. War makes us forget. It makes us forget who we are, it makes us forget what we believe, it makes us forget who are neighbor is. Our world is polarized. Either you are with us, or you are against us. Lord, what must I do to attain eternal life? Love God with all your heart, all your mind and all your soul, and love your neighbor as yourself. And who is my neighbor? That man over there with the bomb, he is my neighbor.

Deacon John
15th Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 15, 2007