27th Week in Ordinary Time, Monday

In today’s Gospel Our Lord teaches us, through the story of the Good Samaritan, that compassion should be the driving force behind all our actions, a compassion that cuts through enmities, cultural differences , and feuds. Samaritans and Jews were at odds with each other: the Jews considered them culturally and cultually corrupted. The Samaritans defended their Old Testament roots and believed that Jerusalem was an upstart of the southern part of Palestine trying to claim an importance it didn’t merit. How many cultures at odds with each other can we think of throughout history and even today?

When Our Lord tells the scribe in today’s Gospel that a Samaritan was a neighbor for showing more compassion to a man robbed and left for dead than two socially important Jews, he was using a shocking example for his listeners, who considered themselves superior to the Samaritans. The priest and the Levite made ritual propriety a priority: if the beaten man was dead they would have been ritually contaminated and unable to participate in Temple worship if they’d drawn near him. It didn’t make them question their ritual propriety–were they really loving God if they weren’t loving man? The Samaritan didn’t have to do any legal or mental gymnastics: he was overwhelmed with pity for what he saw, and didn’t just drop the poor man off at a hospital, but cared for him and provided for him, resolving to follow up until he was sure that he was okay. That’s the commitment and concern of a neighbor. Our Lord teaches us today that neighbors are not only our “buddies,” but anyone who is in need, whether there is good or bad blood between us.

Let’s ask Our Lord today to foster in us the compassion that moves us to be good neighbors to everyone.

Readings: Jonah 1:1–2:2, 2:11; Jonah 2:3–5, 8; Luke 10:25–37.

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B

In today’s Gospel Our Lord teaches the indissolubility of marriage as something in God’s plan from the beginning. In the Old Testament and the New, when a man and a woman come together in marriage they become “one flesh”: each becomes a part of the other. Eve is fashioned from the side of Adam to teach this profound mystery where a man and a woman come together in a love of total mutual self-giving that reflects the inter-Personal love within the Most Holy Trinity: when Adam sees Eve for the first time he recognizes a part of himself, someone without which he would be incomplete, someone who was missing in his life.

For those called to marriage God has blessed two people with someone out there with whom they can be complete, be whole. He respects their freedom to enter into the marriage covenant with each other, and, for believers, promises to help them with the spiritual graces of the sacrament of matrimony. It is a big step not to be taken light, requiring preparation, but when that step is taken it will be a life-changing blessing for them and for everyone they love. Their parents wish them well as they start their new life together and, God-willing, become parents themselves. The beauty of marital love is why marriages in difficulty are so dramatic and tragic: something that is now “one flesh” is trying to pull itself apart. In the difficult moments it is important to remember not just the emotions of first love, but the fact that God has joined man and woman, and God will help them remain united; they just have to keep striving to seek each other’s good.

Let’s thank God today for the blessing of many happy marriages and families, and also ask him to strengthen and help marriages that are in difficulty.

Readings: Genesis 2:18–24; Psalm 128:1–6; Hebrews 2:9–11; Mark 10:2–16.