Sunday, 10 July 2016 : 15th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Bible Sunday (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard the story of the Good Samaritan from our Lord Jesus Christ, Who told this story to His disciples and to the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who were following them on their journey. This story is the perfect story to tell us about how not to be prejudiced and be bigoted in our life, and it also showed us all what we all need to do as Christians.

The story of the Good Samaritan need to be understood in the context of the historical and the socio-political situation at the time, when the people of Israel, the descendants of the kingdom of Judah lived in the southern portion of Israel known then as Judea, centred around Jerusalem, and the northern approaches and regions known as Samaria, inspired from the ancient capital of the northern kingdom of Israel, which had been destroyed by the Assyrians, and had been repopulated by the Canaanites who were the neighbours of the Israelites.

Thus, the Jews always looked at the Samaritans with suspicion and contempt, as they deemed those Samaritans to be pagans and unworthy of God’s salvation. It was such that if we read the story of how Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman by the well, that the Jews commonly did not speak or communicate at all with the Samaritans, and less still to deal with them in any matter.

But they too are rightful children of God, and just as all of us the Gentiles, to whom the word of the Lord in the Gospel should also be preached to. They too believed in God, but they had no guide or prophets to help them, until the Lord Himself came to them and showed them the way forward. And when He came to tell them the truth about the salvation which He offered for all those who were willing to listen to Him and to follow Him, they did as what the Lord had asked them to do.

Even when the Lord called, they responded with faith and embarked on the journey to salvation. They followed the Law, even though their own way, and they repented with sincerity, opening their hearts and welcoming the Lord to their homes, even as the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law rejected Jesus and His teachings, opposed Him and made His works and ministry very difficult.

The prejudice against the Samaritans by the Jews is something which we ourselves often have done in our own lives, in our own communities and societies, and even within our own families and within our own circle of friends. Let us all ask ourselves, how many of us have not ever been biased against another person? It is our innate human nature that we tend to compare, and we compare many things indeed, from our appearances, and then to our money, wealth and possessions, and then many more.

We compare against each other, and when we do not have something, then we become jealous and we have that tendency to also desire what we do not have. And when we have something which others do not have, then we start to be proud and gloat at others who do not have them. And that is when we start looking down on others and then ostracise them or treat them badly as what the Jews had done when they looked down on the Samaritans.

What Jesus our Lord showed in that story of the Good Samaritan is not a case example to discredit or to shame the Jews, and neither was it an example used to praise the Samaritans without reason. It is a story to show us all the example of Christian love which each and every one of us should be doing, and the fact that a Samaritan showed that kind of love to the man who was robbed and left to die, while the supposedly pious Levite and priest just walked past the man, told us volumes that we should not judge a book by its cover.

All of us should not just profess an external faith in God without true love and commitment for Him. For us to truly be able to commit to Him, we need to give our all, to love Him as the commandment said, that we ought to love our God with all our heart, with all our might, and without any hesitation so that in all things we say and do, we will always show that love and devotion for Him, and be able to commit ourselves thoroughly to Him with all sincerity.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, in the Scriptures today, we have also heard the words of encouragement from God that all those who devote themselves to His cause will receive empowerment and strength, and God will be their strength amidst the challenges and troubles of this world. He will stand by our side through all of those challenges. If we are faithful to His Law, obey them with our heart and sincerely commit ourselves, then we will be blessed and we will receive grace from the Lord.

God has given us so much love, that He even has given us His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ our Lord to be our Saviour and salvation. Is it not right that we should return the same love to Him? Is it not right then that we should also love all those whom He had loved without reservation? God did not discriminate with His love, and His love was given equally to all, Jews and Samaritans alike, Jews and Gentiles alike.

Today we celebrate the occasion of Bible Sunday, the commemoration of the Book of the word of our Lord, through which we have received the Good News of God’s salvation, the call for us all to be redeemed from the darkness and the sins that have enthralled us for many ages. And we are the messengers and heralds of that same Gospel which the Apostles and the disciples of Christ had persevered so hard for during those trying times, preaching the word of God to the nations.

And we have therefore the obligation and duty to reach out to all the peoples of all the nations. Jesus our Lord gave one last and the most important commandment of all when He was about to depart from this world into His heavenly glory. And that command is for all of us Christians to become the messenger of His Good News, the bearers of the truth of His Gospels, and bring all the peoples of all the nations into the loving embrace of God through baptism in the Holy Name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.

Are we all able to commit ourselves to love both God and our fellow brethren? Are we all able to devote ourselves anew to God in all of our actions and dealings? Let us all reflect on this, and seek to change ourselves for the better. We have to help each other in our journey to the Lord, and we have to keep one another in mind, even as we go forth in this journey of our faith. Let us not leave anybody in the darkness, but endeavour as much as possible that all of us may find justification in God through our living devotion.

May God enlighten our minds and our hearts through the regular reading and understanding of the Holy Scriptures, and let us all also seek greater understanding by seeking more guidance from the Church, and drawing from the traditions of our Faith, so that having the word of God inside each and every one of us, we may be awakened to the reality of the state of our souls, and therefore do our best to attain salvation in God, by practicing what the Lord our God had given us in His laws and commandments. May God help us and preserve us, give us courage to live our lives with full faith, from now on and till forevermore. Amen.

Sunday, 10 July 2016 : 15th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Bible Sunday (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 10 : 25-37

At that time, a teacher of the Law came and began putting Jesus to the test. And he said, “Master, what shall I do to receive eternal life?” Jesus replied, “What is written in the Scripture? How do you understand it?”

The man answered, “It is written : You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength and with all your mind. And you shall love your neighbour as yourself.” Jesus replied, “What a good answer! Do this and you shall live.”

The man wanted to justify his question, so he asked, “Who is my neighbour?” Jesus then said, “There was a man going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him, beat him and went off, leaving him half-dead.”

“It happened that a priest was going along that road and saw the man, but passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite saw the man, and passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan also was going that way, and when he came upon the man, he was moved with compassion. He went over to him, and cleaned his wounds with oil and wine, and wrapped them in bandages. Then he put him on his own mount, and brought him to an inn, where he took care of him.”

“The next day he had to set off; but he gave two silver coins to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him, and whatever you spend on him, I will repay when I return.'” Jesus then asked, “Which of these three, do you think, made himself neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

The teacher of the Law answered, “The one who had mercy on him.” And Jesus said, “Then go and do the same.”

Sunday, 10 July 2016 : 15th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Bible Sunday (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Colossians 1 : 15-20

He is the Image of the unseen God, and for all creation He is the Firstborn, for in Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible : thrones, rulers, authorities, powers. All was made through Him and for Him.

He is before all and all things hold together in Him. And He is the Head of the Body, that is the Church, for He is the First, the First raised from the dead that He may be the First in everything, for God was pleased to let fullness dwell in Him.

Through Him God willed to reconcile all things to Himself, and through Him, through His Blood shed on the cross. God establishes peace, on earth as in heaven.

Sunday, 10 July 2016 : 15th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Bible Sunday (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 68 : 14 and 17, 30-31, 33-34, 36ab and 37

But I pray to You, o Lord, at a time most favourable to You. In Your great love, o God, answer me with Your unfailing help. In Your mercy, o Lord, give me a good answer; in Your great compassion, turn to me.

But I myself am humbled and wounded; Your salvation, o God, will lift me up. I will praise the Name of God in song; I will glorify Him with thanksgiving.

Let the lowly witness this and be glad. You who seek God, may your hearts be revived. For the Lord hears the needy and does not despise those in captivity.

For God will save Zion and rebuild the cities of Judah. The children of His servants shall inherit it, and those who love His Name will dwell in it.

Alternative Psalm

Psalm 18 : 8, 9, 10, 11

The Law of the Lord is perfect : it gives life to the soul. The word of the Lord is trustworthy : it gives wisdom to the simple.

The precepts of the Lord are right : they give joy to the heart. The commandments of the Lord are clear : they enlighten the eyes.

The fear of the Lord is pure, it endures forever; the judgments of the Lord are true, all of them just and right.

They are more precious than gold – pure gold of a jeweller; they are much sweeter than honey which drops from the honeycomb.

Sunday, 10 July 2016 : 15th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Bible Sunday (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Deuteronomy 30 : 10-14

For you shall turn to YHVH, your God, with all your heart and all your soul, and observe His commandments and norms, in a word, everything written in this Book of the Law. These commandments that I give you today are neither too high nor too far for you.

They are not in heaven that you should say : “Who will go up to heaven to get these commandments that we may hear them and put them into practice.” Neither are they at the other side of the sea for you to say : “Who will cross to the other side and bring them to us, that we may hear them and put them into practice.”

On the contrary, My word is very near you; it is already in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can put it into practice.