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Contents: Volume 2 - Fifteenth Sunday - C
July 10, 2022

 

  The

15th

SUNDAY

 (C)

 

1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP

2. -- Carol & Dennis Keller

3. -- Brian Gleeson CP

4. -- Paul O'Reilly SJ

5. --(Your reflection can be here!)

 

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1.

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Sun. 15 C

Our Scripture readings today are very straight-forward. We hear/read that "the book of law", namely the moral law that we are commanded to heed, is intentionally and conveniently written in our hearts. The second reading tells us that Christ Jesus is the visible model for our lives and also "in him all things hold together." Our Gospel reading tells us to "do likewise" in Jesus 's parable concerning the mercy and compassion of the Samaritan shown toward a victimized stranger. This road map is really more than straight-forward, it is doable and clear.

Why then is our world in such disarray? Why don't even we personally and consistently have that inner peace bubbling over within us, overflowing to our families and everyone else since all are our "neighbors". We can blame it on free will, valid reasons, others' input and shortcomings, and just plain excuses if we'd like. Those things are all true. God doesn't ask us to do the impossible by ourselves, however. Through the mysterious support, guidance, and workings of our Triune God, the impossible CAN and very often does happen.

Even in times of distress, and there is no questioning that our times are indeed often times of distress, we can be more like Christ Jesus. We can remember the core moral law that we have received as gift and act with mercy and compassion toward others. Sure as humans, we falter ,but our faithful God consistently pours out mercy, compassion, and forgiveness on us.

Loving God with ALL of ourselves, to me, means giving God all that is good and all that is "still in progress", no matter how long that construction has been in process or how little progress has been made. God is the Great Fix-it Upperer, certainly not me. I am the one who needs to accept the many opportunities given to me, stay connected to the Great I AM however I can, and show up to do whatever I can to make this world a better place to live. Where is that place in your life and how can you show up, just as you are, with God's help each day?

Blessings,

Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP

Southern Dominican Laity

lanie@leblanc.one

 

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Fifteenth Sunday of Ordered Time July 10 2022

Deuteronomy 30:10-14; Responsorial Psalm 69; Colossians 1:15-20; Gospel Acclamation John 6:63 & 68; Luke 10:25-37

The more mature – by physical age, at least – among us remember the attempts at three dimensional movies. Remember "The Creature From the Black Lagoon?" The third dimension in the movies required we wear colored filters – a different color for each eye. Movie theaters used that needed device for additional revenue and profit. That was a really big deal. I thought, as did many others, there are only three dimensions – length, height, width. But in truth there is a fourth dimension we commonly experience. That dimension we call "time." But, of course; time is a dimension of reality. That dimension is not a stable one. There is constant change because of that dimension of every reality we encounter through our senses. And there lies the rub. That change seems to be of vast and constantly expanding proportions. Yet, there are truly only two categories for change that time brings to the possibilities of life. Change is either growth or decay. There lies a key to understanding the readings this Sunday.

Ah, but you say that’s not what the readings are about. This is no Einstein-ian proposition. Doesn’t it seem this Sunday, following the missionary journeys of the seventy-two disciples, the readings are about the commandments? Did Luke make a mistake in placing this commandment/precept instruction after the missionary journey of the disciples? Shouldn’t he have put this story ahead of the missionary journey so that the disciples had something to say to townspeople about behavior? Isn’t moral behavior the doorway into the Kingdom? Luke didn’t make a mistake. The seventy-two went preaching about the coming Kingdom of God, they healed, they released persons from possession by evil spirits. They were getting persons ready for the next step in their journey into the Kingdom. The first step leading to a share in the Kingdom is always conversion. Think about this: when do we typically turn to God for help, for advice, for information on how to live? Doesn’t our turning point often happen when something bad happens to us? Perhaps a death, perhaps an illness, perhaps when we become victims of violence? When we experience our vulnerability, then we look to strength beyond our own. It’s then that we search for someone who loves us. Ah, love! That magical, mystical force that makes strong men weak, weak men strong. That force that seems to be more feminine than masculine, that leads us to check ourselves as to how we’ve behaved – to question our integrity, our perceptions of reality, the truth of the reality we’ve chosen to follow. Isn’t it then we examine our consciences as to what kind of god we follow? We need to be awakened from our going along to get along, away from the gods that are of our own making. Pain seems to be the great alarm clock, waking us up to a new day, one that changes everything.

Following the preaching, healing, exorcising tour of the seventy-two comes a foundational instruction. Moses lays claim to the voice of God teaching the people chosen how to live. Moses insists what the voice of God has taught isn’t high science, isn’t complex technology, isn’t too esoteric for even the least educated. Moses insists what God speaks is already written in their hearts and expressed already in the mouths of those who hear God’s voice. It is only remains they carry it out.

In this fourth dimensional world, the carrying out of the writing in our hearts and spoken on the tongues of those who listened --- ah, those who listen to their hearts – is how persons begin to grow. It is making use of that pesky fourth dimension. Decay is forestalled not with paint over rotten wood. Decay, the destruction of the voice of the heart, is eliminated. It is in exercising love of self, of those closest to us, and even to those who are strangers to us that the heart pumps with greater power, where leakage is supplanted by the strength of the heart. The law, the commandments, the precepts, and the explanations of philosophers and theologians – statesmen and leadership – of priests and educators – of parents and elders, are the beginning of exercises for the heart. Exercise, as any cardiologist or primary care physician will tell you, is essential for the heart to function in feeding, growing, healing, and providing positive energy to the whole body.

What then of the seemingly arrogant law scribe in the Gospel? His question carries with it the thought that eternal life can be earned. Isn’t that what we think when we fully believe keeping the commandments and the precepts of the Church, listening to moral direction of Pope, Bishop, and priest pave the way to quick entry into heaven? Following the rules is salvation? That seems the attitude of this expert in Mosaic Law. The answer from Jesus seems strange. "How do you read it?" Jesus is referring to the Law – but more than a parchment preserved in a Synagogue. Pious Jews would wear a small leather box on their wrists. In that box would be a parchment fragment inscribed with the words, "You shall love the Lord your God." The law scribe would know that and that it was from the Law as we know it from the book of Deuteronomy. To that saying the scribe added a passage from the book of Leviticus. Was he just showing off his knowledge of the law? But that phrase is critical for the fourth dimension of this Sunday’s liturgy of the Word. "love your neighbor as you love yourself." Who is your neighbor – that’s the question the scribe asks. And if we’re completely honest with ourselves, that is the question we must ask ourselves here and now. So comes Jesus explaining the whole of Hebrew Scriptures – what Moses said is clear and present if we listen to the voice of God.

The Samaritans were a hated nation. So much so that calling anyone a Samaritan whether they were or not is much like the racial epithets in common use now. The story is an extreme one. I’ve often berated the priest, the Levite as persons deserving scorn and condemnation. How could they be so cruel? Yet, the priest knew that touching this near-death person would deny him his turn in temple worship. Worship in the Temple was important, critically important to a priest. He placed his ceremonial role as priest above loving this poor victim. Surely, someone else coming along who wouldn’t lose their turn at temple worship could take care of him? The Levite would have known how dangerous this terrible stretch of road from Jerusalem to Jericho was. Jerusalem was at an altitude of 2300 feet. Jericho was at a height of 1300 feet below sea level. The path was dangerous, a place of slips and falls. It was perfect place for bandits and murders to ply their trade. It was feared that violent thieves would set the scene for a robbery/murder by having a member of their band act as a victim. When a passerby stopped to help, the band would attack and rob and possible murder that person. Certainly for the priest and for the Levite and for us, good reasons avoid danger by helping. Do we not understand this from our own experiences?

The message for us living in the fourth dimension is that staying within the rules just isn’t enough. The rules are a starting point. It’s what the disciples did in last Sunday’s readings. They prepared the way for what we should aspire to. It is the heart muscle – both physically and spiritually that need exercise.

It is a common experience among those who have gone beyond the belief that eternal life is earned by behaving – it is the common experience that serving others is the message of Gethsemane and Calvary. In each of these passions of Jesus, there is the common theme – love of other. It is the common experience of those who practice, who exercise their heart muscle in a spiritual sense, that they come to understand that they love. That’s right: how do we know we love someone; that we love God? It’s only love that gets us into the recreated heavenly Jerusalem. It all starts with keeping the heart from stumbling over hatred, selfishness, prostituting nature by misusing it. That robbing of dignity and worth of created things, living beings, and humanity condemns us. It reveals us as thieves of God’s creation.

In this fourth dimension, time, there is a limit. But its limitation isn’t the important part. The opportunity that time gives us to get it right, to make corrections, to overthrow hatred, selfishness, theft of the dignity and worth of things, living beings, and humanity. The contingencies of time allow for us to practice love. Practice, exercise strengthens our hearts to first loving what we can know through our senses. As we practice that love of what we see, we actually come – at some point – to realize we love as well the Transcendent Ones – that Trinity of Creator, Revealer, and Life enhancer Spirit. Those who love God know they first loved God’s creation. The deeper that love, the more connected to God.

Dennis Keller (Charlie editing) dkeller002@nc.rr.com

 

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3.

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WHO IS MY NEIGHBOUR? 15TH SUNDAY C

Deuteronomy 30:1014; Colossians 1:15-20; Luke 10:25-37

You hear the words ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho.’ You know at once that they begin the famous parable of Jesus, the parable of the Good Samaritan, told one more time today. To understand and appreciate it, we must remember that Jesus told his story to answer the question put to him: ‘Who is my neighbour?’

In the Jewish religion at the time of Jesus, there was much discussion about just who is one’s neighbour. It was generally thought that one’s neighbour is restricted to those who are born Jewish and those who have become Jewish. With his choice of a Samaritan who gives striking practical assistance to the wounded Jewish man, Jesus is asserting that our neighbour is simply any human being in need. So, the idea of neighbour goes way beyond our family, friends, work-mates, nationality, political party, comfort zones and church. Jesus is asserting that even our enemy is our neighbour. (At the time he was telling the story, Jews and Samaritans were, in fact, deadly enemies).

So, Jesus is teaching in this parable that no one at all must be excluded from our care and concern, but also that our love of neighbour must be practical. Notice how the Samaritan behaves in the parable? If he had been content to say to the wounded and bleeding Jewish man: ‘Bad luck, Buddy! What a mess they’ve made of you! But cheer up! It could be worse! You could be dead!’ and then galloped off, he would have been cruel, heartless, and insulting. Instead, he does all he possibly can for the man who fell among thieves. Jesus spells this out when he tells us:

But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion when he saw him. He went up and bandaged his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them. He then lifted him onto his own mount, carried him to the inn and looked after him. The next day he took out two denarii and handed them to the innkeeper. "Look after him," he said, "and on my way back I will make good any extra expense you have."

At the end of the parable, Jesus puts this question to the teacher who questioned him: ‘Which of these, the Levite, the priest, or the Samaritan, showed himself to be a real neighbour to the wounded man?’ He gets the answer he was looking for: ‘The one who took pity on the wounded one.’

In our lives, then, the neighbour we are called to love is, in a nutshell, any person in any situation, who needs me right there and then. We must not discriminate. We must not pick and choose. Neither must we wait, till people in need turn up, perhaps quite dramatically. God asks us to be on the lookout for them, focus on them, and then put ourselves out to support them - with our resources of compassion, outreach, time, energy, and money.

In his beautiful book Jesus of Nazareth, Pope Emeritus Benedict suggests a challenging application of the parable. He sees the entire continent of Africa represented in the unfortunate man who was robbed, wounded, and left for dead on the side of the road. He sees people like us represented by those two professionals who pass by on the other side of the road – sometimes too selfish, too busy, and too preoccupied with our schedules, agendas and other personal concerns to stop, look, listen, feel for and help those who are hurting.

I think that if Jesus came to Israel today and a lawyer asked him again, ‘Who is my neighbour?’ he might change the parable a bit. In place of the Samaritan, he might put a Palestinian! If a Palestinian were to ask him the same question, in the Samaritan’s place we might find a Jew!

But it’s just too easy to limit the discussion to Africa and the Middle East. If any one of us were to put to Jesus the question ‘Who is my neighbour?’ what would he answer? He would certainly remind us that our neighbour is not only our fellow countrymen but also those outside our nation and community, not only Christians but Muslims and Hindus also, not only Catholics but Protestants too, and not only believers but also people with no religious faith. But he would immediately add that the most important thing is not simply to know who my neighbour is. The most important thing is to show what it means to love my neighbour, the person i.e., whoever it may be, who in any situation needs me right there and then. ‘Go and be the Good Samaritan to them, and go now,’ that’s what Jesus would surely be saying to you and me.

So, at every Eucharist, let us pray for the grace to respond to the clear and challenging teaching of Jesus our Guide, both on who my neighbour is, and on how to care for my neighbour in the kindest and most practical ways possible!

"Brian Gleeson CP" <bgleesoncp@gmail.com>

 

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Year C: 15th Sunday of Ordinary Time

"Go and do the same yourself."

When I worked in the Amazon in South America, I met a young lad called Jeffrey and heard his story.

When Jeffrey was ten, his mother died. Three months later, his father abandoned him and his two sisters, emigrated to a rich country and was never heard from again. The three children were taken in by an uncle who had a farm in a very poor village deep in the rain-forest. One day, when Jeffrey was 12, he and his sisters did not have enough food to eat. So Jeffrey climbed a mango tree to try to get some fruit. His uncle had told him not to, but he said that he couldn’t stand to see his sisters hungry. He fell thirty feet out of the tree and broke his back. He was paralyzed from the middle of his chest [about T8] downwards. So they carried him on a stretcher twenty days walk through the forest to the nearest town where there was our little hospital.

And there he lay for a year. And at the end of that year in hospital, he was in a bad way despite all the doctors & nurses tried to do for him. He was so thin that he was just skin and bones. And he had pressure sores all over his back. He was in constant pain and obviously dying.

His uncle and sisters cared for him as best they could. But he was getting worse and worse. So they decided that they wanted to take him home – they couldn’t bear for him to die in hospital. But they couldn’t possibly carry him twenty days journey back into the forest. He was far too weak to survive the journey. So, they appealed to the local church community for help. And God laid it upon the hearts of their next door neighbours – Harry and Colleen – a married couple with their own children - to take in the whole family and care for them. In particular, Colleen looked after Jeffrey devotedly for the six months until he died. And when he died, she wept for him as for one of her own.

Of all the people I have known, many, many good and faithful Christians, she was the one who, I believe, loved the Lord her God with all her heart, with all her soul and with all her mind. And she loved her neighbour as herself.

Let us pray that each of us may be given the grace to go and do the same ourselves.

Paul O'Reilly <fatbaldnproud@opalityone.net>

 

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