15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
Psalm 69:14, 17, 30-31, 33-34, 36, 37
Our first reading comes from the Book of Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy is written as Moses farewell discourse to the Israelites just before he dies and they cross over towards the Promised Land.
In it, Moses reminds them to “heed the voice of the Lord” and to turn to the Lord with all their heart and all their soul.
These words do not go unheard. Works like this are found in our gospel today when the question arises, “What must I do to inherit entire life?” The answer is “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.”
I want to stress that with each part listed, it says “all”.
In coming here today for Mass we show a desire to have God be part of our lives. Do we make Him part of “all” of our life or do we just give Him an hour on Sunday?
Coming here for Sunday Mass is one of the most important things we can do in our lives. Coming here, we admit we need God in our lives. We need grace. We need strength. In coming here for Mass, we give God an in.
We begin Mass with the Sign of the Cross, knowing how important the Cross is to us. We admit we are weak and we sin in the Penitential Rite. We receive direction from God in the readings and the homily. We receive strength from the Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Jesus. We receive much in coming here for Mass.
What we receive at Mass opens up for us what God has already planted in our hearts, faith. So, as Moses said we “only need to carry it out.”
What do we do to live out our faith?
Do you ever pray, like before meals to thank God for the food? The other day I was in a restaurant with some people. I was in my collar and said, ‘I know some people feel self-conscious praying in a restaurant. When I’m wearing my collar I feel self-conscious when I don’t pray in a restaurant.’
How about caring about other people? Do you love “your neighbor as yourself?”
Since I just got here, I have been happy to hear people ministries we have to help people like the Poor Fund, the Giving Tree and the support we give to the Community Food Closet. These are important things we do as a parish.
We are also fortunate to have Catholic Charities active in our county with an office right here in Newark.
What do we do as individuals? Some of you might be among those who support our parish efforts. You might be someone who volunteers for other organizations in our community.
Jesus tells the story of the Good Samaritan, “a man fell victim to robbers…leaving him half-dead.” Would you have stopped to help? First, came a priest. He didn’t stop. He didn’t want to become unclean. Then came a Levite, (who worked in the Temple). He didn’t stop either. Then came the Samaritan man who would have been despised by the Jews. He was the one who stopped and helped. He helped the man that day and he also helped provide for the future.
Every time I hear this story of the Good Samaritan I remember an experience I had ten to twelve years ago. I was in seminary in Washington, DC at the time. I liked to take a walk each day. Walking in our nation’s capital, it is not uncommon to see a poor person. I had little money and I couldn’t help them all. So, I didn’t help every poor person I saw. That was ok.
The troubling experience came one day when I started out on my walk and not far from the seminary, I encountered a man who looked disheveled and in need sleeping in the middle of the sidewalk. This was on Michigan Ave, a very busy road with people driving and walking by and no one was stopping. As I walked past, I looked to see if he seemed injured or ill, which he didn’t. So, I kept on walking, not something I am proud of. It stayed in my head enough that on my return trip I made a point to go the same way with the resolve to do something. When I got to the place, he was gone.
This experience has stayed in my memory. We may not be able to help everyone but do we do something? Maybe it is by supporting our parish efforts like the Poor Fund or Giving Tree. Maybe we support Catholic Charities or the Community Food Closet. If we love God, we need to love our neighbor.