Reflection: Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Chinese Mass:Every Sunday 2:15 p.m

Our Lady of the Assumption RC Church, Assumption Priory, Victoria Park Square, Bethnal Green E2 9PB (map)

Mass is conducted in a mix of Cantonese and Mandarin

After Mass you are welcome to join the community for a tea gathering

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[1st Reading – Deut.30:10-14; Ps.68; 2nd Reading – Col.1:15-20; Gospel – Lk.10:25-37]

It is not difficult to notice how and why people were attracted to and wanted to meet Jesus. Today is no different and we have a lawyer who went to Jesus in order “to disconcert” Jesus and “to justify himself”.

This lawyer was an expert of the law, and yet he asked Jesus about what one must do to inherit eternal life.  Of course, he must have already known what the law says and how to inherit eternal life.  Yet, his intention was not to know what is to be done, but to disconcert Jesus.  Once again, Jesus spots the trap immediately and answers by asking this lawyer a question reflecting what the lawyer had just asked: “What is written in the law?”.  The lawyer responds with what is found in the law and this satisfied Jesus who then invites the lawyer to put this in practice … in order to inherit life.  On the one hand, we have this lawyer who already knows what is written in the law. On the other hand, we have Jesus who is telling the same lawyer what to do, once he has the knowledge!  It is not that the lawyer did not know what to do (as proven by the fact that he has just told Jesus what is written in the law) … but he was not putting the law into practice.  He knew, but he still asked the question – in order to disconcert Jesus.

We are told that once the lawyer understood Jesus’ wit, he “was anxious to justify himself” and asked Jesus “Who is my neighbour?”.  Once again, the motivation behind this enquiry was not because the lawyer did not know the answer, but because he wanted to justify himself.  This time, Jesus does not ask the lawyer what is written in the Law.  Instead, he tells the lawyer a story, the parable of ‘The Good Samaritan’. At the end of the story, Jesus asks the lawyer a question which the lawyer answers.  Again, Jesus shows the lawyer that it is not enough to know, but to put into practice what one knows: “Go and do the same yourself!”

The lawyer, in both cases, asks a question motivated not for the love of knowledge, or by the desire to be open to Jesus, but instead, he was motivated by other things (i.e. to disconcert Jesus, to justify himself).  In both cases the lawyer gives the correct answer to his own questions!  In response, Jesus invites the lawyer to act upon what he knows – “do this…”  Furthermore, in the story, Jesus mentions a Priest, a Levite and a Samaritan.  Now, Samaritans were not highly regarded by the Jews and yet the parable story puts the Samaritan in good light (as he was the only one who had pity on the unfortunate man who fell into the hands of brigands).  The Samaritan then went further in his help by anticipating and providing for the injured man what he might need in the near future.  It is therefore not about what you are, but about what you do!

As every believer wants to inherit the kingdom of heaven, what are we doing in order to have eternal life?  Do we really love our neighbour as ourselves? If not, are we ready to love our neighbour as ourselves?

“Lord, our knowledge of the scriptures is limited, but we know quite well what we should do to inherit eternal life.  Give us the wisdom that we need to be able to truly put this knowledge in practice.  Help us to work with you Lord and learn from you.  Thank you Lord!”

Fr. Jesmond Pawley, OFM Conv.

(Permission to reproduce on this site by Fr. Jesmond, St. Patrick’s RC Church, Waterloo http://www.stpatrickwaterloo.org.uk/ )

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