Gospel Reflections by Father Gerry Pierse, C.Ss.R.

C - 15th Sunday in Ord. Time

July 11, 2004
Dt 30:10-14 • Col 1:15-20 • Lk 10:25-37

The Despised Ones Are the Lord

A student took the boat from Iligan to study in Cebu," the preacher told
the students. "Soon after the boat pulled out from the shore she found
that her bag with her money and all of her belongings were gone. Obviously, some one had stolen them and taken them ashore at the very moment they were leaving. She felt totally abandoned and powerless and began to cry. After some time a politician came along. When he heard her story he said that what happened was a disgrace and he would advise the owner of the shipping line to place more security guards to protect the passengers. A priest also heard about what happened and told her that it was indeed terrible how people now-a-days have no respect for honesty. He promised to pray for her.

All this time there was a Muslim chewing betle nut on a cot nearby. After a while he came over and offered her some of his food. Before they reached Cebu he said to her. "I know you will find it difficult to get to your relatives' place on arrival in Cebu. Please take this P100.00 to use for your fare when you get there." Then the preacher asked the students, "which of these three - the politician, the priest or the Muslim - was a Christian?" To this the students shouted back, "The Muslim, of course." Then they seemed shocked at what they themselves had said.

(Unfortunately, In most parts of the Christian Philippines the word Muslim is used sometimes to indicate unbecoming behavior. The opposite happens in Muslim areas. A friend of mine asked a Muslim family to care for his motorbike. "It will be quite safe here," they told him "There are no Christians in this place!" We have not yet learned an essential law of religious dialogue. Compare ideals with ideals and practice with practice. If we compare Christian ideals with the ideals of Muslims we will find a lot in common… If we compare Christian practice with Muslim practice we will all have much to be ashamed of. But compare Christian ideals with Muslim practice or Muslim ideals with Christian practice and you literally start a Holy War.)

The story of the Good Samaritan we read today in the Gospel tells us that true love cuts across all racial and cultural prejudice. The Samaritans were a despised people in those days. Jesus cuts through this prejudice by making the Samaritan the hero of his story. He even goes farther. He identifies himself with the Samaritan. The way you treat the Samaritan becomes the way that you treat him, Christ.

A lonely traveler makes his way along the road from Jerusalem to Jerico. A band of robbers strip him and leave him half dead. A priest passes by but decides that he cannot delay to help the man. A levite, another religious official, notices the beaten up body but also continues on his way. Perhaps both are afraid of becoming ritually defiled by coming in contact with a corpse or human blood. Their response is one that comes directly from the ego. What will happen to me if I get involved?

The response of the one who has outgrown his ego comes from the most unlikely source, the despised Samaritan. His response comes from the question: what will happen to this man if I do not help? He immediately offers aid first to the man and puts him up in the inn. He helps and pays the cost.

The lack of response that came from the selfish self was a lack of response to Christ himself. The response that came from the selfless self of the Samaritan was a model for all of us of relationship to self, others and God. He was able to put the welfare of the other before possible danger to himself and in this way truly relate to God.

Unfortunately much of our prayer is more concerned about what we can get from God and others than about what we can give. Christian meditation is a way of leaving self behind. In this form of prayer there is a total openness to reality; a reality with God, who calls us to transcend self, at its core.


Taken from Sundays into Silence - A Pathway to Life. Copyright © 1998 by Claretian Publications

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Sundays into Silence

A Pathway to Life

by Gerry Pierse, cssr
380 pp., PhP 299, U$ 19.95

“The best word I can find to describe this book is integration. In these reflections on the gospel readings for year A, B, and C of the liturgical cycle, Fr. Pierse integrates the richness of the word of God with experiences and stories from life in the community. He shows how through silence, the word can bear fruit in service and sacrament.” (R. J. Cardinal Vidal)

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