Sunday Homilies by Fr. Rudolf V. D’ Souza

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15th Sunday of Ordinary Time
July 15, 2007 - Year: C
Deut. 30:10-4; Col. 1;15-20; Lk. 10:25-37
Who is my neighbour? 

First Reading...
"Moses spoke to the people, saying, 'Obey the Lord your God by observing his commandments and decrees that are written in this book of the law; turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

Surely this commandment that I am commanding you today is not too hard for you, nor is it too far away. It is not in heaven, that you should say, 'Who will go up to heaven for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?'

Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, 'Who will cross to the other side of the sea for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?'

No, the word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart for you to observe." [Deut. 30:10-4] 

Second Reading...
"Christ is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation: for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers - all things have been created through him and for him.

Christ is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the boyd, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything.

For in Christ all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross." [Col. 1;15-20] 

Gospel Reading...
"A lawyer stood up to test Jesus. 'Teacher,' he said, 'what must I do to inherit eternal life?'

Jesus said to him, 'What is written in the law? What do you read there?' The lawyer answered, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbour as yourself.'

And Jesus said to him, 'You have given the right answer: do this, and you will live.' But wanting to justify himself, the lawyer asked Jesus, 'And who is my neighbour?'

Jesus replied, 'A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.

But a Samaritan while travelling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.

The next day the Samaritan took out two denarii’s, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, 'Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.'

Jesus asked, 'Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?' The lawyer said, 'The one who showed him mercy.' Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise.'" [Lk. 10:25-37]

Helpful event:
One night, at 11:30 PM, an older African-American woman was standing on the side of an Alabama highway trying to endure a lashing rainstorm. Her car had broken down and she desperately needed a ride. Soaking wet, she decided to flag down the next car.

A young white man stopped to help her - generally unheard of in those conflict-filled 1960s. The man took her to safety, helped her get assistance and put her into a taxicab. She seemed to be in a big hurry! She wrote down his address, thanked him and drove away.

Seven days went by and a knock came on the man's door. To his surprise, a giant console color TV was delivered to his home. A special note was attached. It read:

"Thank you so much for assisting me on the highway the other night. The rain drenched not only my clothes but also my spirits. Then you came along. Because of you, I was able to make it to my dying husband's bedside just before he passed away. God bless you for helping me and unselfishly serving others."

Mrs. Nat King Cole

Who is my neighbour? Well, a difficult question. The story of the Good Samaritan has provoked a multimillion inspirations and reflections in books and stories. Whenever we see someone doing a good job, helping and assisting a helpless person, we exclaim: Oh that Good Samaritan. In our conversations we always say, I met a Good Samaritan today. Oh, that was a wonderful Good Samaritan. The expression Good Samaritan has become so common that it is used irrespective of cast, creed and nation in conversations and speeches.

This Sunday should help us to reflect deeply and find out what type is this guy who had been deeply hurt, physically, spiritually, psychologically and morally. Who is the one that takes care of him.

That will help us to find out who can be a Good Samaritan. Let us now analyze the passage:

Jesus and the Lawyer:

Jesus replied to the lawyer and said, “A certain man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho; and he fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went off leaving him half dead.”

Jesus expounds on the law of love.  True love is put into action.  It is not merely at concept or a feeling.   

The Road:

There is a road that goes down from Jerusalem to Jericho. It is 17 miles long and drops about 3,000 feet down the sea level in those 17 miles.  It has long been a hazardous trip due to thieves and robbers. A lot of people would suffer at the hands of fake encounters.

Unknown Man:

Jesus intentionally leaves the man un-described; the man who fell among thrives. The audience, being Jewish, would naturally assume that he was a Jew. Being in this half dead state he would be unconscious. Hence Jesus’ intention of not disclosing the identity would mean that a neighbour could be anybody who is in need.  

Since he is stripped, he then is unidentifiable. Historically, a person can be identified in one of two ways: his dress and his speech, i.e. dialect. The man is any person: void of ethnic background, void of stature, void of position

And by chance a certain priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.

The priest was most certainly riding because he was in the upper classes of society. The poor walk. The priest may be was in a hurry. 

Since, he moves to the other side, probably the priest did not actually see it happen. How can he be sure the wounded man is a neighbor since he cannot be identified? If the person lying there is a non-Jew the priest could be risking defilement, especially if the person were actually dead. If he defiles himself he can not collect, distribute, and eat tithes. His family and servants will suffer the consequences with him. Here comes the problem of being with our immediate neighbours, who need our help, but the society does not allow us to be truly neighbours.  

Priests were supposed to be ritually clean, exemplars of the law. There would be immediate shame and embarrassment suffered by them at the expense of the people and their peers for such defilement. Having just completed his mandatory two weeks of service, he would then need to return and stand at the Eastern Gate along with the rest of the unclean. Furthermore, in addition to the humiliation involved, the process of restoring ritual purity was time consuming and costly. It required finding, buying, and reducing a red heifer to ashes, and the ritual took a full week. The priest is in a predicament. Moreover, he cannot approach closer than four cubits to a dead man without being defiled, and he will have to overstep that boundary just to ascertain the condition of the wounded man. 

The Levite:
And likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side”. 

“Levites were descendants of Levi but not of Aaron, and they assisted the priests (Aaron’s descendants) in the temple.” 

The road spoken of here is a long one. It is very likely, according to those who have walked it, that a person traveling it, could see ahead of him a long way. The Levite, who is of a lower social class, may have been walking. He most probably saw the priest ahead of him and could have thought to himself, “If the priest may pass then so should I.”

Perhaps they might fear for their own safety.  What if someone saw them with the naked and wounded person and reported to the officials that the priest and/or Levite committed a crime against the injured person? 

The Samaritan

But a certain Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion”. 

The Samaritans were a mixed race between the Jews of captivity and the Samaritan people of the land they were captive in. The relationship between the Jews and Samaritans was one of hostility because of some bad things that happened in the past. According to the Mishna, “He that eats the bread of the Samaritans is like to one that eats the flesh of swine” (Mishna Shebiith 8:10). The Mishna is the oral traditions that developed about the law, containing interpretations and applications to specific questions which the law deals with only in principle. Specifically, it is the collection of these traditions.

The Samaritan is not a gentile. He is bound by the same law as the Jews. The Samaritan would not be naturally from that area, so the half dead man would certainly not qualify as his neighbor.  

The Samaritan woman therefore said to Him, “How is it that you, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)” (John 4:9). 

The Jews answered and said to Him, “Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?” Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon; but I honor My Father, and you dishonor Me,’” (John 8:48-49)

And he (Samaritan) came to him, and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.” 

Samaritans Good Gesture: 

The Samaritan risks defilement. He approaches this unidentifiable man and helps him.

Oil and wine were poured out on the high altar before God. Note how the usage is mentioned after the Priest and Levite have failed to do their duty.

And on the next day he took out two denarii’s and gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return, I will repay you.” 

The Samaritan forfeits anonymity when he stays overnight and then says he would return. The wounded man has no money. When it is time for him to leave, if he cannot pay the debt he can be arrested, Matthew 18:23-35. The Samaritan knows this and volunteers money (two denarii’s is two days wages) and whatever else is needed to see to the needs of this unidentified man. Additionally, the Samaritan had no way of insuring the return of his money. Therefore, it is safe to assume he did not expect it to be returned. This is truly being a Good Samaritan. Being Good Samaritan does not end with helping once, but it requires a chain of helping situations that leads the wounded or the needy to a stable condition. This what we call is being a Good Samaritan. 

Mumbai Floods:
It was in 26th July 2005, Mumbai flooded, people stranded, lost homes and wealth. It was a tragic and sad scene. But, what a good will among people of Mumbai. No one can defeat Mumbai for showing solidarity and concern when it comes to living out a tragedy. Irrespective of cast, creed people helped one another. Charitable organizations and business people threw help to anyone who wanted. That was a wonderful scene to behold. Forgetting self and giving to the other whatever they needed. This is what we understand by love of neighbour. Well, we all have that tenderness inside of us. Jesus wants to bring it out to the forefront, and make the best use of it so that the unfortunate may be helped.  

Community Welfare Fund: Our parish pioneered COMMUNITY WELFARE FUND activities as soon as the official from the Bishop’s were communicated to us. Today more than 400 families benefit from the contributions of more than 65% of our families of the parish. Don’t we realize that we have all become Good Samaritans? It takes courage, and will take courage to continue in this good work. 

What about our concern towards our children?
What about the obligation of the parents and godparents to raise their children in the sound doctrines of the Catholic faith? Today, many Churches in our Diocese no longer enjoy the presence of children of all ages because the parents let their children decide for themselves what they want to do - go to Church or stay home. This attitude of spiritual freedom is a betrayal of God's gift of little souls to parents. When God entrusted the parents with the souls of newborns, it was with the expectation that the parents would teach their children to adore God on a daily basis, to desire to be in His presence, to learn right from wrong, etc...
And when godparents stood in the presence of God and the Church on behalf of newborn children, they personally committed themselves to ensure that the children they sponsored would be raised in the Catholic faith. What happened to that commitment?

  Click here for other Sunday Homilies 

A New book from Fr. Rudy :
Short review of the book: This book is an out come of a serious exegetical study on the important words and texts from the writings of St John of the Cross. The study deals with a short life and writings of the mystic and then does a complete study on GOD, MAN and WAYS to EXPERIENCE GOD. The book is available at: St. Joseph Church, Near Holy Cross Convent School, Mira Road East, Thane Dt. Maharashtra State - 401 107, India. Books can be ordered through email: or

The cost of the book is Rs. 125/- pp.xviii + 234, The Title of the Book is: THE DYNAMISM OF SPIRITUAL GROWTH - An Exegetical Study on St. John of the Cross, author: Dr. Rudolf V. D' Souza, OCD, MA. PhD.

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Let us make this ministry fruitful one so that the Word of God becomes a source of joy for me and for you and help people become more aware of its riches. You are also welcome to share your feedback with me. Thanks and God bless. 




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