15th Sun C
The Commentaries Summarised
As a Church we are in a web of wisdom that comes to us both from tradition and contemporary writers. This section offers a summary of some commentaries on the Gospel. Also below is a list of the books and articles that have been consulted in compiling this Sunday's "Pray As You Can" and which could be used for further reading.
This Sunday's Commentary
This fine parable, a gem of a story that draws us in to confront our own behaviour, was told to a hostile audience. The lawyer, an expert in the Mosaic Law which covered both religious and civic life, truly was an expert. He responded with alacrity when Jesus asked his question, ‘What is written in the Law?’ The answer he gives shows that he well knows about the generosity of self demanded by the Law: fullness of love towards God and deep respectful love towards one’s neighbour. But the question, ‘Who is my neighbour?’ shows a mindset of minimisation and rationalisation that undermines the intention of the Law. He wants to know how small the group is to whom he must show love.
In the parable, the two who walked by the injured man, the priest and Levite, were experts in the Law yet they did nothing for someone so obviously in need. The Samaritan, from a tribe hated primarily for their heretical understanding of the Law, is moved by compassion and helps in a practical manner. The verb used here for his response is the same used of Jesus when he saw the grieving widow of Nain (Lk 7:11) The Samaritan’s response comes from the gut and his actions reveal the loving response of love demanded of the Law: he did to the injured man what he himself would have wanted for himself.
The genius of this parable lies in the fact that no explanations are given for anyone’s behaviour except the Samaritan, who was moved by compassion. We are left wondering how we would act in such a situation – with compassion or moving on with one of the myriad of excuses that we have to not get involved in the troubles of others.