Studies and Meditations on this Sundays Scripture Readings: July 14, 2013


#1

…Jesus then asked the scholar of the law, "Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?” He answered, “The one who treated him with mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

To help us prepare for this coming Sunday, here are the readings, studies and reflections for this coming Sunday’s Scripture readings. This Sunday is the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Here are the Scripture readings from the U.S. Catholic bishops website.

My own weekly study on the Sunday Readings can be found here at my website.

Here are three short audio reflections on the readings by Sister Ann Shields, Dr. Scott Hahn, and Fr. Robert Barron.

Scripture scholar Fr. Francis Martin’s video meditations on the Sunday Scripture readings can be found here.

The Navarre Bible Commentary for each reading can be viewed here.

Further study resources for the Readings: St. Charles Borromeo Bible Study can be found here, Catholic Matters can be found here, the Catena Aurea (“Golden Chain”) of St. Thomas Aquinas can be found here, and the Haydock Commentary can be found here.

Please consider supporting those who provide these free resources.

Discussion, questions and charitable comments are always welcome. Have a blessed week!

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#2

From "The Sacred Page", a blog written by three Catholic Ph.D.s who are professors of Scripture and Theology: Michael Barber, Brant Pitre and John Bergsma.

*Won't You Be My Neighbor? The 15th Sunday of OT *

This Sunday Jesus issues us a strong challenge to break down the barriers and prejudices that prevent us from showing love to other human beings. Jesus’ teaching is in continuity with the best synthesis of the moral instruction of the Old Testament and Judaism, which views every human being as a “neighbor.”

Read the entire article here.


#3

Looks like the Navarre Bible Commentaries haven't been published in a while on the Google group so here they are for this Sunday:

**Navarre Bible Commentary

First Reading:** From: Deuteronomy 30:10-14
**
Restoration After Repentance (Continuation)
-------------------------------------------**
(Moses said to the people, ) [10] "If you obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which are written in this book of the law, if you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

The Law of God is Accessible to All
-----------------------------------

[11] "For this commandment which I command you this day is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. [12] It is not in heaven, that you should say, 'Who will go up for us to heaven, and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?' [13] Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, 'Who will go over the sea for us, and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?' [14] But the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it."


Commentary:**

30:11-14. What this passage directly refers to is how privileged Israel was to have the Law. The sacred writer puts it very beautifully, by using two nice metaphors in a passage that has a certain poetic rhythm to it. St. Paul, in his Letter to the Romans (10:6-8), uses this passage, applying it not to knowledge of the Law but to "the word of faith" that is preached by the apostles: it is now that word (as previously it was the Law) that makes manifest the precepts and commandments of God and (like the Law in its time, too) it should be constantly on our lips and in our heart. Theodoret of Cyprus (commenting on the Greek Septuagint version, which adds in v. 14 "and in your hands") says: The mouth stands for meditation on the divine words; the heart, readiness of spirit; the hands for doing what is commanded" ("Quaestiones in Octateuchum", 38).

The Christian people, who possess the New Law and the New Covenant, are in an even better position than the people of old, for they have been given the grace of Christ. And so the Council of Trent teaches that "God does not command impossible things; when he makes a commandment he is telling you to do what you can and ask (his help) as regards what is beyond you, and he helps you to fulfill it" (De Iustificatione", 11). In the Old Law, even though the Israelites did not have available to them the grace won by Christ, divine Providence helped them to do what was required of them in anticipation of that grace.


#4

Second Reading: From: Colossians 1:12-20

Prayer for Advancement in Holiness;
Exhortation to Gratitude (Continuation)
---------------------------------------

[l2] Give thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. [13] He has delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, [14] in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
**
Hymn in Praise of Christ as Head of All Creation
------------------------------------------------**
[15] He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation;
[16] for in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or
authorities--all things were created through him and for him.
[17] He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
[18] He is the head of the body, the church, he is the beginning; the first-born from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.
[19] For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, [20] and through him to reconcile to himself all things.


Commentary:**

*12-14. *"The dominion of darkness": the condition of enslavement to the devil of a person in the state of sin. As is frequent in Sacred Scripture (cf. Is 58:10; Jn 12:35; 1 Jn 1:5; 2:8; 2 Cor 6:14; Rom 13:11-14; Eph 5:7-13), the simile of movement from darkness to light is used to refer to "redemption" or the change from a condition of sin to one of righteousness and friendship with God, which is effected by infusion of sanctifying grace (cf. St Thomas, "Commentary on Col, ad loc.").

"Light": this is a symbol of the risen Christ and also of the abundance of graces which he won for mankind in his Easter Mystery. It also describes the whole ensemble of supernatural benefits which grace brings with it--goodness, righteousness (or holiness) and truth (cf. Eph 5:9), which lead to the glory of heaven (cf. 2 Cor 4:6). Hence the "rite of light", so richly a symbol of supernatural realities, which has formed part of baptismal liturgy since the first centuries.

The struggle between light and the power of darkness is referred to in many passages of Sacred Scripture (cf. Jn 1:5, 9-11). Darkness means both evil and the power of the Evil One. Before the redemption took place, all men--as a consequence of original sin and their personal sins--were slaves to sin; this slavery darkened their minds and made it difficult for them to know God, who is the true light. Christ our Lord, by carrying out the redemption and obtaining forgiveness for our sins (cf. v. 14), rescued us from the kingdom of darkness from the tyranny of the Evil One, and brought us into the kingdom of light, the kingdom of truth and justice, of love and of peace (cf. "Preface for the Solemnity of Christ the King"), enabling us to enjoy "the glorious freedom of the children of God" (Rom 8:21).

"His beloved Son": the Hebrew expression "Son of his love", which is paralleled in the Greek, is one of the ways Jesus Christ is referred to in the New Testament (cf. Mt 12:6; Lk 20:13). A variation, "my Son, the Beloved", is spoken by the voice from heaven, that is, by the Father, at Jesus' baptism (cf. Mt 3:17; Mk 1:11; Lk 3:22) and at the Transfiguration (cf. Mt 17:5; Mk 9:7; Lk 9:35).

By speaking in this way St Paul, like St John, is underlining the fact that "God is love" (l Jn 4:8). God's love for us was made manifest by his sending his only Son into the world so that we might live through him (cf. 1 Jn 4:9). By dying on the Cross he won life for us; by redeeming us with his blood he obtained forgiveness for our sins (cf. Col 1:14; Eph 2:4ff): "He revealed to us that God is love, and he gave us the 'new commandment' of love (Jn 13:34), at the same time communicating to us the certainty that the path of love is open for all people, so that the effort to establish universal brotherhood is not a vain one (cf. "Gaudium Et Spes", 38). By conquering through his death on the Cross evil and the power of sin, by his loving obedience he brought salvation to all" (John Paul II, "Reconciliatio Et Paenitentia", 10).

On the meaning of "redemption" and "forgiveness of sins", see the note on Eph 1:7-8.

Continued below...


#5

12. We Christians should be grateful to God for his great mercy in deigning to free us from the power of the devil, forgiving our sins and making us worthy to “share in the inheritance of the saints”. We have benefited in so many ways: “In addition to the gift itself, he also gives us the power we need so receive it …]. God has not only honored us by making us share in the inheritance, but has made us worthy to possess it. And so we receive a double honor from God–firstly, the position itself; and secondly, the capacity to measure up to it” (Chrysostom, “Hom. on Col, ad loc.”).

Our sharing in “the inheritance of the saints” enables us to draw on the treasury of spiritual goods which the Church is continually applying to its members–prayers, sacrifices and all kinds of meritorious actions, which benefit every Christian. This “inheritance of the saints”—in which we begin to share in this present life–will be found in its full and permanent form by those who attain everlasting joy. The grace of conversion originates in God’s loving kindness. “Prior to God’s gift of grace, although not every man might be sinful there is nothing that he does or can do which would merit forgiveness or the grace of God. You must realize”, St John of Avila says, “that it is God who has brought you out of darkness into his wonderful light …]. And what caused him to do so was not your past merits or any service you have rendered him, but his kindness alone and the merits of our only mediator, Jesus Christ our Lord” (“Audi, Filia”, 65).

15-20. Now we come to a very beautiful hymn in praise of Christ’s sublime dignity as God and as man. This was a truth deserving emphasis in view of the danger to the faith which the false apostles’ teaching represented (cf. note on vv. 7-8). However, quite apart from the particular situation in Colossae, the sublime teaching contained in this canticle holds good for all times; it is one of the most important Christological texts in St Paul’s writings.

The real protagonist of this passage is the Son of God made man, whose two natures, divine and human, are always linked in the divine person of the Word. However, at some points St Paul stresses his divinity (vv. 16, 17, 18b and 19) and at others his humanity (vv. 15, 18a, 18c and 20). The underlying theme of the hymn is Christ’s total pre-eminence over all creation.

We can distinguish two stanzas in the hymn. In the first (vv. 15-17) Christ’s dominion is stated to embrace the entire cosmos, stemming as it does from his action as Creator: “in him all things were created” (v. 16). This same statement is made in the prologue to the fourth Gospel (cf. Jn 1:3), and it is implied in the Book of Genesis, which tells us that creation was effected by God’s word (cf. Gen 1:3, 6, 9, etc.). Since Christ is the Word of God, he is above all things, and therefore St Paul stresses that all angels–irrespective of their hierarchy or order–come under his sway.

Christ’s pre-eminence over natural creation is followed by his primacy in the economy of supernatural salvation, a second creation worked by God through grace. The second stanza (vv. 18-20) refers to this further primacy of Christ: by his death on the cross, Christ has restored peace and has reconciled all things–the world and mankind–to God. Jews and Gentiles both are called to form part of one body, the Church, of which Christ is the head; and all the celestial powers are subject to his authority.

This passage is, then, a sublime canticle celebrating Christ, the head by virtue of his surpassing excellence and his salvific action. “The Son of God and of the Blessed Virgin”, Pius XII teaches, “must be called the head of the Church for the special reason of his preeminence. For the head holds the highest place. But none holds a higher place than Christ as God for he is the Word of the Eternal Father and is therefore justly called ‘the first-born of all creation’. None holds a higher place than Christ as man, for he, born of the immaculate Virgin, is the true and natural Son of God, and by reason of his miraculous and glorious resurrection by which he triumphed over death he is ‘the first-born from the dead’. And none stands higher than he who, being the ‘one mediator between God and man’ (1 Tim 2:5), admirably unites earth with heaven; who, exalted on the Cross as on his throne of mercy, has drawn all things to himself” (“Mystici Corporis”, 15).

**15. **By the unaided use of reason man can work out that God exists, but he could never, on his own, have grasped the essence of God: in this sense God is said to be invisible (cf. St Thomas, “Commentary on Col, ad loc.”). This is why it is said in St John’s Gospel that “no one has ever seen God” (Jn 1:18).

Continued below…


#6

In Sacred Scripture we are told that man was created “in the image of God” (Gen 1:26). However, only the second person of the Blessed Trinity, the Son, is the perfect image and likeness of the Father. “The image [likeness] of a thing may be found in something else in two ways; in one way it is found in something of the same specific nature–as the image of the king is found in his son; in another way it is found in something of a different nature, as the king’s image on the coin. In the first sense the Son is the image of the Father; in the second sense man is called the image of God; and therefore in order to express the imperfect character of the divine image in man, man is not simply called ‘the image’ but is referred to as being ‘according to the image’, whereby is expressed a certain movement or tendency to perfection. But it cannot be said that the Son of God is ‘according to the image’, because he is the perfect image of the Father” (“Summa Theologiae”, I, q. 35, a. 2 ad 3). And so, “for something to be truly an image, it has to proceed from another as similar to it in species, or at least in some aspect of the species” (“Summa Theologiae”, I, q. 35, a. 1, c.) To say that the Son is “image of the invisible God” means that the Father and the Son are one-in-substance–that is, both possess the same divine nature–, with the nuance that the Son proceeds from the Father. It also conveys the fact that they are two distinct persons, for no one is the image of himself.
The supreme revelation of God is that effected by the Son of God through his Incarnation. He is the only one who can say, “He who has seen me has seen the Father” (Jn 14:9). His sacred humanity, therefore, reflects the perfections of God, which he possesses by virtue of the hypostatic union–the union of divine nature and human nature which occurs in his person, which is divine. The second Person of the Trinity restored man to his original dignity. The image of God, imperfect though it be, which there is in every man and woman, was blurred by Adam’s sin; but it was restored in Christ: God’s true self-image takes on a nature the same as ours, and thanks to the redemption wrought by his death, we obtain forgiveness of sins (v. 14).

Jesus Christ is the “first-born of all creation” by virtue of the hypostatic union. He is, of course, prior to all creation, for he proceeds eternally from the Father by generation. This the Church has always believed, and it proclaims it in the Creed: “born of the Father before time began …, begotten, not made, of one being [consubstantial] with the Father” (“Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed”).

In Jewish culture, the first-born was first in honor and in law. When the Apostle calls Jesus “the first-born of all creation”, he is referring to the fact that Christ has pre-eminence and headship over all created things, because not only does he pre-date them but they were all created “through him” and “for him” (v. 16).

16-17. Jesus Christ is God; this is why he has pre-eminence over all created things. The relationships between Christ and creation are spelled out by three prepositions. “In him all things were created”: in Christ: he is their source, their center and their model or exemplary cause. “All things were created through him and for him”: through him, in other words, God the Father, through God the Son, creates all things; and for him, because he is the last end, the purpose or goal of everything.

St Paul goes on to say that “in him all things hold together”; “the Son of God has not only created everything: he conserves everything in being; thus, if his sovereign will were to cease to operate for even an instant, everything would return into the nothingness from which he drew everything that exists” (Chrysostom, “Hom. on Col, ad loc.”).

All created things, then, continue in existence because they share, albeit in a limited way, in Christ’s infinite fullness of existence or perfection. His dominion extends not only over celestial things but also over all material things, however insignificant they may seem: it embraces everything in heaven and in the physical universe.

The sacred text also points to Christ’s supremacy over invisible creation, that is, over the angels and celestial hierarchies (cf. Heb 1:5). If St Paul stresses this fact, it is to expose the errors of those who were depicting Jesus as a creature intermediary between
corporeal beings and spiritual created beings, and, therefore, lower than the angels.

18. “He is the head of the body, the church”: this image shows the relationship of Christ with the Church, to which he sends his grace in abundance, bearing life to all its members. 'The head," St Augustine says, “is our very Savior, who suffered under Pontius Pilate and now, after rising from the dead, is seated at the right hand of the Father. And his body is the Church …] For the whole Church, made up of the assembly of the faithful–for all the faithful are Christ’s members–has Christ, as its head, who rules his body from on high” (“Enarrationes in Psalmos”, 56, 1).

Concluded below…


#7

St Paul unequivocally teaches that the Church is a body. "Now if the Church is a body it must be something one and undivided, according to the statement of St Paul: ‘We, though many, are one body in Christ’ (Rom 12:5). And not only must it be one and undivided, it must also be something concrete and visible, as our Predecessor of happy memory, Leo XIII, says in his Encyclical “Satis Cognitum”: ‘By the very fact of being a body the Church is visible.’ It is therefore an aberration from divine truth to represent the Church as something intangible and invisible, as a mere ‘pneumatic’ entity joining together by an invisible link a number of communities of Christians in spite of their difference in faith.

“But a body requires a number of members so connected that they help one another. And, in fact, as in our mortal organism when one member suffers the others suffer with it, and the healthy members come to the assistance of those who are ailing, so in the Church individual members do not live only for themselves but also help one another, alleviating their suffering and helping to build up the entire body” (Pius XII, “Mystici Corporis”, 7).

“He is the beginning, the first-born from the dead”: this can be said because he was the first man to rise from the dead, never again to die (cf. 1 Cor 15:20; Rev 1:5), and also because thanks to him it enabled men to experience resurrection in glory (cf. 1 Cor 15:22; Rom 8:11), because they are justified through him (cf. Rom 4:25).

So, just as the previous verses looked to Christ’s pre-eminent role in creations the hymn now focuses on his primacy in a new creation—the rebirth of mankind, and all creation in its train, in the supernatural order of grace and glory. Christ rose from the dead to enable us also to walk in newness of life (cf. Rom 6:4). Therefore, in every way Jesus Christ is “pre-eminent.”

19. The word “pleroma” translated here as “fullness”, has two meanings in Greek: one, an active meaning, describes something that “fills” or “completes”; for example, a ship’s full load can be referred to as its “pleroma”. The other meaning is passive, “that which is filled” or “that which is complete”, so that a ship can be said to be “pleroma” when it is fully loaded. In this passage St Paul is using the word in both senses: Christ is the fullness (passive sense) of the Godhead (cf. Col 2:9), because he is full of all the perfections of the divine essence; and he is the fullness (active sense), because he fills the Church and all creation.

St John Chrysostom suggests that “the word ‘fullness’ is to be taken to mean the divinity of Jesus Christ …]. This term has been chosen the better to show that the very essence of the godhead resides in Jesus Christ” (“Hom. on Col, ad loc.”).

Since Christ possesses the divine nature, he also possesses the fullness of the supernatural gifts, for himself and for all mankind. Hence St Thomas’ comment that pleroma “reveals the dignity of the head in so far as it has the fullness of all grace” (Commentary on Col, ad loc.). In this sense, Christ is the fullness of the Church, for as its head he vivifies his body with all kinds of unmerited gifts. Finally, the entire created universe can be termed the “fullness” (“pleroma”) of Christ, because everything that exists in heaven and on earth has been created and is maintained in existence by him (cf. vv. 16-17); they are ever-present to him and are ruled by him (cf. Is 6:3; Ps 139:8; Wis 1:7; etc.). Thus, the world, which was created good (cf. Gen 1:31) tends towards its fulfillment insofar as it clearly reflects the imprint God gave it at the start of creation.

20. Since Christ is pre-eminent over all creation, the Father chose to reconcile all things to himself through him. Sin had cut man off from God, rupturing the perfect order which originally reigned in the created world. By shedding his blood on the cross, Christ obtained peace for us; nothing in the universe falls outside the scope of his peace-giving influence. He who in the beginning created all things in heaven and on earth has reestablished peace throughout creation.

This reconciliation of all things, ushered in by Christ, is fostered by the Holy Spirit who enables the Church to continue the process of reconciliation. However, we will not attain the fullness of this reconciliation until we reach heaven, when the entire created universe,
along with mankind, will be perfectly renewed in Christ (cf. “Lumen Gentium”, 48).

"The history of salvation–the salvation of the whole of humanity, as well as of every human being of whatever period–is the wonderful history of a reconciliation; the reconciliation whereby God, as Father, in the Blood and the Cross of his Son made man, reconciles the world to himself and thus brings into being a new family of those who have been reconciled.

"Reconciliation becomes necessary because there has been the break of sin from which derive all the other forms of break within man and about him. Reconciliation therefore, in order to be complete, necessarily requires liberation from sin, which is to be rejected in its deepest roots. Thus a close internal link unites “conversion” and “reconciliation”. It is impossible to split these two realities or to speak of one and say nothing of the other (John Paul II, “Reconciliatio Et Paenitentia”, 13).

Jesus Christ also counts on the cooperation of every individual Christian to apply his work of redemption and peace to all creation. The founder of Opus Dei says, in this connection: “We must love the world and work and all human things. For the world is good. Adam’s sin destroyed the divine balance of creation; but God the Father sent his only Son to reestablish peace, so that we his children by adoption, might free creation from disorder and reconcile all things to God” (“Christ Is Passing By”, 112).


#8

Gospel Reading: From: Luke 10:25-37
**
Parable of the Good Samaritan
-----------------------------**
[25] And behold, a lawyer stood up to put Him (Jesus) to the test, saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" [26] He said to him, "What is written in the law? How do you read?" [27] And he answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind: and your neighbor as yourself." [28] And He said to him, "You have answered right; do this, and you will live." [29] But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" [30] Jesus replied, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. [31] Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. [32] So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. [33] But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, [34] and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. [35] And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the inn-keeper, saying, "Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.' [36] Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?" [37] He said, "The one who showed mercy on him." And Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."


Commentary:**

25-28. Our Lord's teaching is that the way to attain eternal life is through faithful fulfillment of the Law of God. The Ten Commandments, which God gave Moses on Mount Sinai (Exodus 20:1-17), express the natural law in a clear and concrete way. It is part of Christian teaching that the natural law exists, that it is a participation by rational creatures in the Eternal Law and that it is impressed on the conscience of every man when he is created by God (cf. Leo XIII, "Libertas Praestantissimum"). Obviously, therefore, the natural law, expressed in the Ten Commandments, cannot change or become outdated, for it is not dependent on man's will or on changing circumstances.

In this passage, Jesus praises and accepts the summary of the Law given by the Jewish scribe. This reply, taken from Deuteronomy (6:4ff), was a prayer which the Jews used to say frequently. Our Lord gives the very same reply when He is asked which is the principal commandment of the Law and concludes His answer by saying, "On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets" (Matthew 22:40; cf. also Romans 13:8-9; Galatians 5:14).

Concluded below...


#9

There is a hierarchy and order in these two commandments constituting the double precept of charity: before everything and above everything comes loving God in Himself; in the second place, and as a consequence of the first commandment, comes loving one's neighbor, for God explicitly requires us to do so (1 John 4:21; cf. notes on Matthew 22:34-40 and 22:37-38).

This passage of the Gospel also included another basic doctrine: the Law of God is not something negative--"Do not do this"--but something completely positive--love. Holiness, to which all baptized people are called, does not consist in not sinning, but in loving, in doing positive things, in bearing fruit in the form of love of God. When our Lord describes for us the Last Judgment He stresses this positive aspect of the Law of God (Matthew 25:31-46). The reward of eternal life will be given to those who do good.

27. "Yes, our only occupation here on earth is that of loving God—that is, to start doing what we will be doing for all eternity. Why must we love God? Well, because our happiness consists in love of God; it can consist in nothing else. So, if we do not love God, we will always be unhappy; and if we wish to enjoy any consolation and relief in our pains, we will attain it only by recourse to love of God. If you want to be convinced of this, go and find the happiest man according to the world; if he does not love God, you will find that in fact he is an unhappy man. And, on the contrary, if you discover the man most unhappy in the eyes of the world, you will see that because he loves God he is happy in every way. Oh my God!, open the eyes of our souls, and we will seek our happiness where we truly can find it" (St. John Mary Vianney, "Selected Sermons", Twenty-second Sunday after Pentecost).

29-37. In this moving parable, which only St. Luke gives us, our Lord explains very graphically who our neighbor is and how we should show charity towards him, even if he is our enemy.

Following other Fathers, St. Augustine ("De Verbis Domini Sermones", 37) identifies the Good Samaritan with our Lord, and the waylaid man with Adam, the source and symbol of all fallen mankind. Moved by compassion and piety, He comes down to earth to cure man's wounds, making them His own (Isaiah 53:4; Matthew 8:17; 1 Peter 2:24; 1 John 3:5). In fact, we often see Jesus being moved by man's suffering (cf. Matthew 9:36; Mark 1:41; Luke 7:13). And St. John says: "In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent His only Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the expiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another" (1 John 4:9-11).

This parable leaves no doubt about who our neighbor is--anyone (without distinction of race or relationship) who needs our help; nor about how we should love him--by taking pity on him, being compassionate towards his spiritual and corporal needs; and it is not just a matter of having the right feelings towards him; we must do something, we must generously serve him.

Christians, who are disciples of Christ, should share His love and compassion, never distancing themselves from others' needs. One way to express love for one's neighbor is perform the "works of mercy", which get their name from the fact that they are not duties in justice. There are fourteen such works, seven spiritual and seven corporal. The spiritual are: To convert the sinner; To instruct the ignorant; To counsel the doubtful; To comfort the sorrowful; To bear wrongs patiently; To forgive injuries; To pray for the living and the dead. The corporal works are: To feed the hungry; To give drink to the thirsty; To clothe the naked; To shelter the homeless; To visit the sick; To visit the imprisoned; To bury the dead.

31-32. Very probably one reason why our Lord used this parable was to correct one of the excesses of false piety common among His contemporaries. According to the Law of Moses, contact with dead bodies involved legal impurity, from which one was cleansed by various ablutions (cf. Numbers 19:11-22; Leviticus 21:1-4, 11-12). These regulations were not meant to prevent people from helping the injured; they were designed for reasons of hygiene and respect for the dead. The aberration of the priest and the Levite in this parable consisted in this: they did not know for sure whether the man who had been assaulted was dead or not, and they preferred to apply a wrong interpretation of a secondary, ritualistic precept of the Law rather than obey the more important commandment of loving one's neighbor and giving him whatever help one can.


#10

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