Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
First reading: Dt 30:10-14
Responsorial Psalm: 69:14, 17, 30-31, 33-34, 36-37 or 19:8-11
Second reading: Col 1:15-20
Gospel: Lk 10:25-37
By Jem Sullivan | Catholic News Service
At the start of the war in Ukraine the United Nations estimated that 4 million Ukrainians would flee their country. That number was a painful underestimate. As the war rages on, the U.N. estimates now that 12 million Ukrainians need relief and protection within their country, and more than 8 million refugees will shelter in countries across Europe and around the world.
The Ukrainian people know well the experience of the man in today’s Gospel parable who was a victim of robbers who stripped and beat him and left him half dead on the roadside. Millions of refugees have been robbed of life, the security of their homes, stable jobs, the stability of their communities and future dreams. Suffering the senseless and violent aggression of war, they depend now on the compassion and kindness of strangers.
We know that countless good Samaritans have opened their homes and their lives to Ukrainian refugees. Their example of love and compassion show us that the message of the Gospel 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 out Jesus’ command to “go and do likewise” 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 hear God’s word, which is “spirit and life,” as the psalmist sings. Moses tells the Israelites in the first reading, “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.”
Then Moses reminds the people that God’s word is not a mysterious or remote, inaccessible word. Rather, the word of God “is something very near to you, already in your mouths and in your hearts; you have only to carry it out.”
The second reading from Colossians is a beautiful hymn of praise to Jesus Christ. St. 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, the church,” in whom “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.”
Jesus, lord of heaven and earth, desires our friendship and invites us to imitate his way in daily Christian discipleship.
The challenge of today’s Gospel is to not only hear the voice of Jesus but to live out his words, imitating his example of self-giving 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 the words we pray, “speak to me, Lord.”
How can you become an instrument of God’s mercy and compassion to someone in need?
Sullivan is a professor at The Catholic University of America.