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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Monday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time
1st Reading (Jonah 1:1—2:1.11): This is the word of the Lord that came to Jonah, son of Amittai: «Set out for the great city of Nineveh, and preach against it; their wickedness has come up before me». But Jonah made ready to flee to Tarshish away from the Lord. He went down to Joppa, found a ship going to Tarshish, paid the fare, and went aboard to journey with them to Tarshish, away from the Lord. The Lord, however, hurled a violent wind upon the sea, and in the furious tempest that arose the ship was on the point of breaking up. Then the mariners became frightened and each one cried to his god. To lighten the ship for themselves, they threw its cargo into the sea.

Meanwhile, Jonah had gone down into the hold of the ship, and lay there fast asleep. The captain came to him and said, «What are you doing asleep? Rise up, call upon your God! Perhaps God will be mindful of us so that we may not perish». Then they said to one another, «Come, let us cast lots to find out on whose account we have met with this misfortune». So they cast lots, and thus singled out Jonah. «Tell us», they said, «what is your business? Where do you come from? What is your country, and to what people do you belong?». Jonah answered them, «I am a Hebrew, I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land». Now the men were seized with great fear and said to him, «How could you do such a thing! They knew that he was fleeing from the Lord, because he had told them.

They asked, «What shall we do with you, that the sea may quiet down for us?». For the sea was growing more and more turbulent. Jonah said to them, "Pick me up and throw me into the sea, that it may quiet down for you; since I know it is because of me that this violent storm has come upon you». Still the men rowed hard to regain the land, but they could not, for the sea grew ever more turbulent. Then they cried to the Lord: «We beseech you, o Lord, let us not perish for taking this man's life; do not charge us with shedding innocent blood, for you, Lord, have done as you saw fit». Then they took Jonah and threw him into the sea, and the sea's raging abated. Struck with great fear of the Lord, the men offered sacrifice and made vows to him. But the Lord sent a large fish, that swallowed Jonah; and Jonah remained in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. From the belly of the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord, his God. Then the Lord commanded the fish to spew Jonah upon the shore.
Responsorial Psalm: Jon 2
R/. You will rescue my life from the pit, o Lord.
Out of my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me; from the midst of the nether world I cried for help, and you heard my voice.

For you cast me into the deep, into the heart of the sea, and the flood enveloped me; all your breakers and your billows passed over me.

Then I said, «I am banished from your sight! Yet would I again look upon your holy temple».

When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the Lord; my prayer reached you in your holy temple.
Versicle before the Gospel (Jn 13:34): Alleluia. I give you a new commandment: love one another as I have loved you. Alleluia.
Gospel text (Lk 10:25-37): There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test Jesus and said, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read it?” He said in reply, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” He replied to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.”

But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man fell victim to robbers as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. They stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half-dead. A priest happened to be going down that road, but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. Likewise a Levite came to the place, and when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight. He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them. Then he lifted him up on his own animal, took him to an inn, and cared for him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction, ‘Take care of him. If you spend more than what I have given you, I shall repay you on my way back.’ Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?” He answered, “The one who treated him with mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

“What must I do to inherit eternal life?”

Fr. Ivan LEVYTSKYY CSsR (Lviv, Ukraine)

Today, the gospel’s message indicates the path to life: “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart… and your neighbor as yourself” (Lk 10:27). And since God has loved us in the first place He leads us to the union with Him. Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta said: “We need this intimate union with God in our daily life. And how can we achieve it? Through prayer.” Being in oneness with Him we begin to experience that with Him everything is possible, even to love our neighbor.

Someone said that Christians enter the church to love God and come out to love their neighbors. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI highlights that the Christian’s program – the program of the Good Samaritan, Jesus’ program – is “a heart which can see.” See and stop! In this parable there are two people who see the needy, but they don´t stop. This is why Christ has reproached the Pharisees saying: “Do you have eyes and not see?” (Mk 8:18). On the contrary, the Samaritan sees and stops, he has mercy and thus saves the life of the needy and his own.

When the famous Catalan architect Antonio Gaudí was run over by a tramway some bystanders didn’t stop to help that injured old man. He carried no documents and looked like a beggar. Had they realized who that neighbor was, surely they would have stayed in line to help him.

When we practice the good, we think we do it for our neighbor, but we really do it also for Christ: “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” (Mt 25:40). And Benedict XVI says my neighbor is anyone who needs me and I can help. If everyone seeing his neighbors in need would stop and have mercy on them once a day or once a week the crisis would decrease and the world would become better. “Nothing makes us resemble God more than good deeds” (St. Gregory of Nyssa).

Thoughts on Today's Gospel

  • “For ours is no trifling aim, but our endeavour is for eternal life.” (Saint Cyril of Jerusalem)

  • “In the messianic programme of Christ, which is at the same time the programme of the Kingdom of God, suffering is present in the world in order to release love, in order to give birth to works of love towards neighbour.” (Saint John Paul II)

  • “(...) We cannot love God if we sin gravely against him, against our neighbor or against ourselves: ‘Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.’ (1 Jn 3:15) (....)” (Catechism Of The Catholic Church, Nº 1033)

Other comments

«The one who had mercy on him»

Brother Lluís SERRA i Llançana (Roma, Italy)

Today, a Teacher of the Law asks Jesus the kind of question we may have asked ourselves more than once, in our life: «Master, what shall I do to receive eternal life?» (Lk 10:25). He wanted to put Jesus to the test. The Master, though, wisely answers what is written in the Scriptures, that is, to love the Lord your God and your neighbor as yourself (cf. Lk 10:27). The key is to love. If we seek the eternal life, we know that «faith and hope will go away, but love will remain forever» (cf. 1Cor 13:13). Any life project, any spirituality, that does not have love in its center takes us further away from the actual meaning of our existence. An often forgotten but important reference point is to love oneself. Only from our personal identity can we love God and our neighbors.

The teacher of the Law goes still further when asking Jesus: «Who is my neighbor?» (Lk 10:29). And he gets his answer with a tale, a parable, a little story, far away from complicated theories, but with a clear message. The model of the loving person is a Samaritan, that is, someone who is a dropout, someone excluded from God's people. When they saw the man beaten and half-dead, a priest and a Levite just ignored him and passed by. Those who apparently are closer to God (the priest and the Levite) are those who are farther away from their neighbor. The teacher of the Law avoids saying the word “Samaritan” to state who did behave as neighbor to the wounded man: «The one who had mercy on him» (Lk 10:37).

Jesus' proposal is clear: «Go then and do the same». It is not a theoretical conclusion of the debate but an invitation to live the reality of love, which is not only an ethereal feeling but a behavior that overcomes social discrimination and arises from a person's heart. St. John of the Cross reminds us «at the twighlight of your life you will only be examined of love».