Following this Gospel reading can cause controversy, according to some. Everyone thinks they know the story of the “Good Samaritan”, but how often have we looked at it in any depth?
Again, we have an issue we see today, shown in Jesus’ time. In those days, Samaritans were the ones referred to as “those people” in much the same way as people today refer to immigrants, gay people, people of color, or anyone else who does not seem entitled to be “one of us”.
Jesus got a lawyer to admit that a Samaritan would be a neighbor! Doesn’t that have some implication for us?<br?>
There is a challenge here, and it takes the form of facing an issue we face today as much as in St Paul’s time! Do we want our reward to be merely the absence of punishment, or can we have something greater?
If following a set of rules provided one reward, might the greater reward come from something less complex? Then why don’t we pursue that?
The Epistle can be seen by many as yet another announcement of what should be obvious, but there are those who need to know. And there are those who need to be reminded.
And speaking of reminders, the Gospel reading exposes an uncomfortable issue which is at least as much an issue today as it was in Jesus’ time! Most of us can see that issue in someone, and we all need to be sure that we prevent it from being seen in ourselves!
In the Epistle, St Paul talks about spiritual gifts which come from the Holy Ghost. They are wonderful, they are powerful, they are real, and they are for us to use. We’ve grown to the point where we can make use of them for our benefit, and so we have such gifts as part of our many blessings.
But look at the Gospel, and the story of Jesus crying over Jerusalem. Never was a city so blessed, and never was a city so unaware of the blessings with which they were entrusted!
Beware! There are many people who do not want you to hear the lesson in today’s Gospel reading! It is one thing to be told to beware of false prophets, but it is another to be told how to tell who a false prophet might be!
And how do you know a false prophet when you see one? If you tell a tree by its fruits, then you tell a false prophet by what they produce. And what should a prophet produce who claims to speak for Christ?
We begin the readings with an Epistle which reminds of the importance of looking forward on the path we’re on, and not being distracted. Where we were gets us nothing, but where we are going gets us the grand prize.
It might be said that the Gospel illustrates that in one of the stories of a feeding of multitudes. It can be said that one of the perhaps-too-familiar prayer lines we say by rote memory comes alive here in what happens.