July 8, 2022

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time / Msgr. Owen F. Campion

The Sunday Readings

Msgr. Owen CampionThe Book of Deuteronomy, the source of the first reading for Mass this weekend, is one of the first five books of the Bible. They are collectively called the Pentateuch, from the Greek word meaning “five.” These five books have been venerated for millennia as containing the revelation of God to Moses, the greatest of all the ancient Hebrew prophets.

In this reading, Moses speaks to the people on God’s behalf. Moses speaks the word of God. He calls the people to obey God’s commandments.

He is clear, nonetheless, that no mere lip service or insincere motions, actually a masquerade of devotion, are sufficient.  Moses instead summons the people to heartfelt, honest and total dedication to God. Obeying commandments, then, becomes a visible expression of a genuine attitude of the soul.

Moses makes clear to the people that God, while almighty and invisible, and therefore neither human nor bound to the Earth, is aware of human lives and is communicating with humans.

For its second reading, the Church for this weekend presents a passage from St. Paul’s Epistle to the Colossians. Colossae was a relatively important city in the Roman Empire’s northern Mediterranean world. A Christian community had formed in Colossae, and its spiritual vitality was Paul’s concern that led to the writing of this epistle.

The reading builds on the revelation given by God centuries earlier to Moses and other prophets. God is invisible. Mortals see God, however, in the Lord Jesus, who lives and is real. Jesus rules over all creation and over all creatures. He is the head of the Church. Discipleship means accepting Jesus, but it also means uncompromising commitment to Jesus.

This community in Colossae, visible and alive with the very life of the Holy Spirit, was much more than a coincidental gathering of persons professing Jesus as Lord. In it lived the spirit of Jesus. Through Jesus, its people anticipated eternal life.

St. Luke’s Gospel provides a basic concept of Christian theology. Jesus says that the true disciples must love God above all things and must love their neighbors as themselves. At times, people assume that this admonition was unique to the New Testament. It was not. Ancient Judaism did not concern itself only with outward manifestations of obedience to God, and formal worship of God, without regard to the deep intentions of the heart.

Historic belief among Hebrews, as evidenced in this weekend’s first reading, required a genuine, uncompromised commitment of the mind and heart to God.

This reading from Luke gives us the familiar and beautiful story of the Good Samaritan, affirming this long understanding of true dedication to God.

Important to understanding the story is knowing the disdain in which Jews of the first century held Samaritans. Jews at the time regarded Samaritans almost as incapable of holiness or goodness. They were back-sliders, traitors, untrustworthy. Jesus clearly taught that virtue could exist even in a Samaritan. More broadly, the message was, and is, that anyone can love others, can be with God.


Over the years, American culture has advanced so that today Americans are much more alert to and rejecting of prejudice. At the same time, as evidenced sadly every day by hate-filled actions and words, prejudice is not dead in this country. Remember the bigoted slaughter at the church in Charleston? Orlando? El Paso? Buffalo?

The story of the Good Samaritan cannot lose its impact as Americans today cope with divisions in society. No one is intrinsically bad. Evil deeds make people bad.

Anyone may be a Samaritan from time to time. Maybe sin have set us apart.  Something leads us away from goodness.  We not only are all called to love God and to love others. We’re also to affirm that anyone, a modern Samaritan or not, can love others through the love God has for them. †

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