Gospel Reflections

15th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Luke 10:25-37

Sunday Gospel Reflection by Sister Eileen Burns

Published: July 10, 2016


Did you ever wonder what the Samaritan received?

My Dad had a very strong personality. When we were young, some of the neighborhood children called him “big bad John.” Much to my brothers, sisters and my disappointment, my father liked the name. He said the neighborhood children would all behave well in our yard if they feared him. He was an electrician for manufacturing businesses and vice-president of his worker’s union. For a while he volunteered as a clown with the Knights of Columbus visiting children in hospitals but it made him sad.

In his 60s, he tried volunteering at the Samaritans which sponsored a suicide prevention phone hotline that someone could call any time of the night or day. Now his name was John #346. Dad heard many stories and sharpened his ability to depend on the guidance of the Holy Spirit to give him the words he needed to comfort, console and give hope to strangers over the phone whom he would never meet. He often did overnight shifts and would share his relief with us the next day when he believed the caller did not choose to end his or her life. There were other hard days when he wasn’t sure what happened after the phone conversation ended the night before. But something very profound happened to John as well. My Dad grew to be more nurturing and grateful for the gift of life. I believe that being a Samaritan transformed him and allowed the gentler parts of him hidden deep inside to emerge more consistently. We used the gospel of the Good Samaritan at Dad’s funeral.

Jesus shares the parable of the Good Samaritan in today’s Gospel. We find it in Luke 10 which is the same chapter where the 72 disciples are sent out on mission and return rejoicing. What if we have missed a great point in this story by focusing on the scholar? He was trying to test Jesus by asking “who is my neighbor?” What was in it for the Samaritan?

How have you changed, grown in partnership with the Spirit and returned rejoicing after an intimate experience of serving others? Jesus shares two ways of responding to the beaten victim in his story: avoidance and engagement. Perhaps he was teaching the scholar good self-care and the path to potential joy in his own life through loving God and neighbor. Jesus invites him, invites us to “go and do likewise.”  We do not know how the questioner responded. Let us hope he chose life through service.  Let us hope that we do as well!

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