The Opportunity to be a Hero or a Heroine
Father Ed Witt, SJ
Homily from the Televised Mass
Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time,July 10, 2022
Two weeks ago, you may remember this gospel, the Samaritans did not welcome Jesus and his disciples because he was headed to Jerusalem, the wrong place to worship God in their view. James and John — would be Elijah’s — wanted to call down fire on them and wipe out the Samaritans. Jesus rebuked them and rejected violence and moved on with his face resolutely headed to Jerusalem and the cross.
In last week’s Gospel, Jesus instructed his missionary disciples to eat and drink whatever was set before them, even at a Samaritan dinner table stressing the importance of table fellowship. Today’s gospel tells the story of the “good Samaritan.” For Jews, there is no such thing as a good Samaritan. All Samaritans were considered half-breed heretics who worshipped God in the wrong place. For Samaritans, their feelings towards the Jews was mutual.
The Samaritan woman at the well, you will recall, was shocked when Jesus asked her, a Samaritan, and a woman to boot, for a drink. But through her, a whole Samaritan town came to believe in Jesus. Today Jesus tells a story of an action hero who happens upon a man beaten, robbed, left for dead. The priest and the Levite passed him by. They are on their way to Jerusalem for temple duty and don’t want to get their hands dirty. For them, God is in the temple not half beaten, half dead at the side of the road.
The good Samaritan could have ignored the dying Jew and merely promised him “thoughts and prayers.” Instead, he went all out to help and revive the victim. He saw, he was moved with compassion in his gut, and he acted. He’s an action hero.
Now not all of you may have such a dramatic opportunity for such heroism. Particularly if you’re sick, you’re shut in. But in that case, there is a chance to be a prayerful hero or heroine. Next week’s Gospel, Jesus shows us how to do that. Namely, sit at his feet pray, listen intently while he speaks to you. Be a hearer of the word as well as a doer. Each of us in our own circumstances has an opportunity to be a hero or a heroine.