By Father James Rodriguez
The Gospel given to us by the Church today contains the familiar story of the Good Samaritan, a story with a clear moral message about helping those in need regardless of our personal aversions to them.
However, there is something deeper at play in this story. If you recall, the instigator in the story is a scholar of the law. Like him, we can sometimes fall victim to looking at the faith as an intellectual exercise.
Jesus reminds him and us to “go and do likewise,” converting our knowledge into action, which is often more difficult to do. It is easy to learn things about God, but if He is only trivia for us, we have missed the point of the Incarnation entirely.
He came to be Emmanuel, God-with-us, and if we love Him with all our heart, as well as with all our mind, then it becomes easier to see Him even in those we would rather avoid.
To see Jesus in others is far easier said than done. People often disappoint us. Our leaders fail us. Crime rates rise as selfishness meets need. We learn to be mistrustful of others, and unfortunately this is sometimes necessary in our sinful reality.
Yet in all this we cannot afford to lose sight of Christ Jesus, who St. Paul calls “the image of the invisible God.” He provides for us a deeply beautiful and hopeful Christology, developed out of his faith and knowledge, but rooted in an ineffable love that we can have too.
You can almost hear him preaching these words in Colossae, teaching them that Jesus exists beyond the confines of history yet came to reconcile us to the Father, to lead us home to the heavenly Jerusalem we heard about last week.
The Church gives us two psalms to choose from today, both of which serve as good responses to St. Paul’s preaching.
Psalm 69 reminds us that God is here, and that we can turn to Him who, as Psalm 19 tells us, has the words of spirit and life.
In Jesus, God is with us, and our deepest sadness is never too deep for Him.
He is close to us, and has made it so that all we have to do is reach for Him.
Long before the angel appeared to Mary, God promised this closeness through Moses.
The Word that was to be made flesh in her immaculate womb was, in a spiritual sense, “already in your mouths and in your hearts.”
Then, as now, the task of the faithful person is to trust, “to carry it out,” something we do after every Mass.
Like the Israelites we are entrusted with the Word of God, His promise of salvation for the nations. As with Mary, that Word is made flesh and given to us.
As the Church of God, it is for us to carry this Word made flesh to the world around us.
We carry Him to our families and friends who struggle with faith, as we do to strangers who see our good works that they might proclaim the glory of God (cf. Mt. 5:14).
Readings for Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Father James Rodriguez is pastor of St. Rose of Lima Church in Rockaway Beach.