Daily Readings Reflection for 7/11/10

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Reflection on Today’s Daily Readings by Fr. Bertrand Buby, SM

Today’s Readings

Scripture: Lectionary for C cycle # 106. 15th Sun.  Deuteronomy 30:10-14.
Psalm 69:14.17.30-31.33-34.36.37  Colossians 1:15-20. Luke 10:25-37:

Luke is the Evangelist of the Parables of Compassion. We meditate and
reflect on the parable of the Good Samaritan this Sunday.  We identify so
closely with some of the parables that we actually think of them as
historical events.  They are not that but the thought does motivate us to
be doers of the word and not simply those who listen to Jesus.  His mother
Mary always says “Do whatever he tells you.” This is the spirit of a
believing Jewish mother who wants action not simply listening to her son.

The point of view of a parable is to get us to think about something that
will help us learn from Jesus. We are to put into practice what we learn.
In the Parable of the Good Samaritan certainly compassion is one of its
focal points, but the context will help us too.  We have a lawyer (scribe
or scholar of the Torah) approaching Jesus and asking what he must do to
acquire eternal life. He therefore is a searching Pharisee who believes in
life after death.  He asks Jesus the question and Jesus asks him “What is
written in the Law (Torah)? He answers with something the he knew well,
namely, the beautiful confession of faith expected from a Mosaic scholar: ”
You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul,
with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as
yourself.”

In reading a more positive attitude on the part of the lawyer is possible
and several English translations lead us along those lines, for example,
“But because he wished to justify himself… or the man was anxious to
justify himsel” (New American Bible, and New Jerusalem Bible).  To justify
himself can also mean that the person was searching how to be a tsadiq (an
honest and just person) or one who want to pursue holiness.  Lawyers have
to be given credit for asking the right questions and for giving the
correct answer. He did this. Now it is Jesus’ turn to help him “justify”
himself and not try to trump Jesus which he may not have intended. Jesus’
parable is striking and colorful. It is easy to imagine the scene and to be
moved to compassion with the Samaritan as it reaches its apex.  The lawyer
did this as he again answers Jesus correctly. Jesus, as usual, has the last
word and tells the scholar or scribe or lawyer, “Go and do the same (as the
Samaritan did) yourself.  This implies that such “doing” would enable the
lawyer to inherit eternal life.

Looking at the parable within such a positive way of describing the lawyer
enables us not to pass judgment on a Pharisee (unfortunately, the
Scriptures do this too often from a Christian bias) but to give credit to
someone who though very clever and smart was answering the questions of
Jesus correctly and undoubtedly was led to put the interpretation of the
most sacred part of his Law or Instruction (Torah) into action.

Jesus has shown him that he has to reach out with loving compassion even
toward a stranger and a religious “enemy” who did not believe what he
believed.  He had to move himself to think outside the box of just citing
Scripture as some of us are wont to do, but as actually putting the Torah’s
greatest commandment into action.

We may ask ourselves am I a good Samaritan?  Am I honest in what I question
the Lord about?  Do I reach out to someone who does not share the same
beliefs as I do?  Or am I looking for a way to test them by my questions?
Perhaps, the Good Samaritan Parable is one that could be used in ecumenical
dialog to the benefit of both or many with differing religious persuasions.
Amen.

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