July 14, 2013 –– Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
From Moses’ exhortation to the Israelites in the reading from Deuteronomy to Paul’s reminder to the Colossians as to what the center of their lives should be, to Jesus’ poignant assertion in the powerful Parable of the Good Samaritan as to who is our neighbor, we as stewards are called to a higher way of life.
In the first reading from Deuteronomy, Moses enjoins the Israelites to return to God and do what God asks. Moses goes on to say that God’s request is not obscure or complex. In fact it reflects exactly what is said in today’s Gospel when Moses states “return to the Lord, with all your heart and soul.” In other words love God with all your heart and soul. The reading closes with Moses reminding them they do not need to look “up in the sky” or “across the sea” to find the secret—it is “already in your mouths and in your hearts.”
The second reading is from the first chapter of Paul’s letter to the Colossians. He eloquently explains and describes Jesus’ preeminence as the center of the Church. Stewardship is a God-centered way of life. It is as if Paul is saying to all of us that to truly be good stewards our faith in Christ, our lives as disciples must focus on the Lord to be authentic and effective.
It is in the Gospel from Luke that we find the keys to being a good steward and to living a stewardship way of life. Dependent upon what one considers a parable, and what scholar is counting, Jesus shared between 30 and 45 parables in the Gospels. The Parable of the Good Samaritan, today’s Gospel, is only found in Luke. The stewardship implication is nonetheless is quite clear.
We need to understand some things which make the story more profound. Most of us have heard of the strained relations between the Jews and the Samaritans. However, we may not be as aware that the road from Jerusalem to Jericho where the story is set was known as the “Way of Blood” because of its danger and the criminal elements which haunted it. Many worthy treatises have been written about this parable. Strictly from a stewardship angle we only need to look at those individuals who come upon the injured and beaten man in the road.
The first two quite likely passed him because they feared for their own safety. They asked themselves the question, “What will happen to me if I stop to help him?” It was the Samaritan on the other hand who asked the stewardship question, “What will happen to him if I do not help him?” Stewardship challenges us with tough questions — risks. Jesus makes it clear that He expects us to truly follow Him, to take those risks and to reach out in many ways to others. He puts it quite bluntly, in fact: “Go thou and do likewise.”