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15th Sunday in OT (C)

Go deeper

By Jacqui-Theresa Leiba

LUKE 10:25–37

This Sunday’s parable of the Good Samaritan is an invitation to humbly acknowledge that we carry the qualities of the self-justification of the lawyer, and the kindness of the Good Samaritan within us.

The question the lawyer poses to Jesus on what he must do to “inherit eternal life” is a rhetorical one. The lawyer’s desire is not for any new insight. He is an expert in the Torah. His motive is to unsettle Jesus and score points for himself.  He is insincere in calling Jesus “Master”.

Jesus cleverly redirects the question back to him. He has no choice but to quote the law himself: “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength and your neighbour as yourself.”

This commandment requires a silent, prayerful pause. How is it possible to love God with everything in me, and love my neighbour as myself? We turn to the Lord in prayer and recall Jesus’ words: “It is the Spirit that gives life…” (Jn 6:63).

Jesus knows the lawyer’s heart; just as He knows your heart and mine; and can read it well. He tells the lawyer that life is his if he does what is written in the commandment.

Self-justification inflates the ego, blinds the believer to God’s goodness and creates a more separate sense of self; finding it difficult to reach out to others.  Such is the lawyer’s predicament. The question of who his neighbour is, is a good one. It prompts Jesus to tell the parable of the Good Samaritan.

No love exists between the Jews and the Samaritans. Religious, political, racial, ethnic, xenophobic, and all kinds of prejudice is the lot of the unevolved heart and mind and requires conversion of heart. If not, living the gospel values of loving the neighbour, whose differences are merely skin thick, is impossible.

In the parable, Jesus invites us to see beyond these tribal divides, to overcome the mindset of the world and to see differences as opportunities to love even more.

The mention of oil and wine in the parable is symbolically striking. The Levite would have assisted the priest as he used oil and wine in religious ritual in the temple. The Samaritan used oil and wine to bandage the wounds of the unknown man who was beaten and left for dead. Neither the priest nor the Levite was “moved to compassion”.

One can discern, from a deeper reading, that it is the Holy Spirit that animated the Good Samaritan to be “moved to compassion”.

One of several messages in the parable may be that religion is not to be limited to the rituals inside any church or temple. True religion includes binding up the wounds of the abused and victimised.  The Corporal and Spiritual acts of mercy is our guide.

The lawyer thought himself to be intelligent, but he lacked depth. Jesus’ teaching in the parable was a clear message: “Go deeper”.

There is a life-giving difference in reading scripture through a mind and heart open to discernment. The letter of the law, with words and meaning taken literally, must not take precedence over the spirit of the law, which gives a fuller and more heartful understanding behind the intention of the written word.

The Samaritan demonstrated the definition of love in the commandment.  Moved with compassion, he exercised loving patience and kindness (1 Cor 13:4-8) to a stranger.

Jesus invites us to determine who are the abused and beaten in our family and society. In the daily walk of life, we are called to be Good Samaritans. Like the invitation to the lawyer, we are called to go deeper.



“Show me your ways, Lord and teach me Your paths. Make me walk in Your truth and teach me. For You are the God of my salvation.” (Psalm 25)

Jacqui-Theresa Leiba is a Catholic primary school teacher and parishioner of St Patrick’s RC Church, Newtown.

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash