15th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year C
THE IMAGE OF GOD
Try to imagine meeting an alien being who is pure energy; who has no physical form; who is pure intellect; and who is immortal. How would you be able to relate to such a being? How would you communicate? How would you be able to love such a being? This is not science fiction. It is a description of the problems we have in dealing with God. Of course, God is not an alien. God is an infinitely loving creator. But we are so unlike God that we might as well be aliens ourselves.
God solved the problem by appearing on earth in the person of Jesus. We can relate to God because we can relate to God's human form. Paul tells us that Jesus is the "image of the invisible God." In other words, the qualities of love and mercy and humility that we see in Christ are a perfect reflection of the same qualities in God. Jesus is God made visible.
WHO IS MY NEIGHBOR?
Jesus answers this question with a parable about a person who should be an enemy but who demonstrates compassion.
Samaritans were foreigners who had moved into Israel several centuries before Jesus. They were allies of the Assyrians who had conquered the country. They commandeered not only the land of the Israelites but even many of their religious institutions. The bitterness between the two peoples only grew aggravated in the following centuries.
Both the Jewish priest and the Levite (a temple aide) avoid the apparently dead victim. They would become ritually impure by touching a corpse. This would prevent them from doing their religious duties.
The hated Samaritan has no such obligations and shows true love for the injured stranger. There are still a small number of Samaritans left in Palestine.
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