Every Sunday I record my sermons, which you can find at http://archangelschurch.org/
But, they are not immediately posted.
Samaritans were not considered members of the people of God. They had betrayed their religion by changing the rules and some Jewish practices. In a sense they were traitors. Their rivalry could be traced back to five hundred years or even more. By the time of Jesus, any Jew traveling to Jerusalem had to take a long route to avoid Samaria. The shorter route (through Samaria) was a hostile journey. The Samaritan will ignore and withheld any help; they would not give the traveler any water or sell them food. The same treatment was given to the Samaritans when they found themselves in Jewish territory. They were enemies, although they were really family members, members of the same tradition. Why were they so angry with each other? Well, that’s the subject of a whole lecture; so let us just say that they did not like each other at all, even though they were all members of the people of God. So, why were they not considered Jewish, if they were all from the same tradition? I imagine is the same as Christians against Catholics (although both of them are Christians they choose to separate themselves based on beliefs). Ultimately, for God, the separation is a silly one.
Every word that Jesus spoke has a real meaning; he did not choose an example randomly. When studying today’s gospel we hear the story of the “good enemy.” When the question is asked about who is my neighbor, Jesus uses a parable to explain it and, in doing so, he was slapping those Pharisees who claimed to be better than their enemies. Jesus is challenging them, he is purposefully pressuring them, and he is infuriating them.
Most people have misunderstood the purpose of religion. Religion is a not a place where you go to worship without being challenged. I can still hear the voices of people who came to me to complain: “I don’t like to think when I am in church, I come to pray.” That’s what churches have become: a place where people pray, but do not grow spiritually. The church has become a balm to soothe them, but not to heal them. I do not blame them AT ALL. Growing is painful!
Does that mean that I have to love my wicked sister? Jesus would say: there was a woman, an enemy of yours, who was suffering. You saw her suffering, but instead of being compassionate you smiled. Maybe you thought “She deserves it, that old stinking witch.” Later that week, a Muslim, perhaps a Jehovah’s Witness, wait it may have been a lesbian… or was it your high school GRAND enemy? I don’t remember, but the point is that the suffering woman received the help she needed. Who do you think acted as a Christian?
You may argue with Jesus all you want, maybe even explain why you hate your sister and why she is evil. In contrast you may share with him that you give money every Sunday that you belong to the Legion of Mary or to the Salvation Army. You may even emphasize how many prayer services you attend a week. You keep the commandments, you stay with your husband even though he was abusive, and your life was difficult growing up…
I think you get the point. Jesus is not the typical guy who gets moonstruck by your generosity and your membership in rotary clubs and Legions of Mary. Jesus is a bottom line kind of guy: who acts like God and who acts like a hypocrite?
When I have preached about this, some people have felt offended. I understand the pain. It is hard to hear from another that we make wrong choices CONSTANTLY. If you are honest with yourself, you will find that you err several times a day. The idea is not to get discouraged, but to see these lessons as an opportunity to grow.
In what way have you being hypocritical this past week? How can you improve that? If your answer is: I have not been hypocritical, then I congratulate you; although, I might want to have a talk with your significant other, or your neighbor, maybe, even with your sister. Are you really that holy or are you being hypocritical with yourself? See, the priest who ignored the man wounded on the road was not a bad priest, neither were the others who passed by. They were all busy with their lives, but their lives did not represent the life that Christ wants you to have, in that sense it is clear that they were living hypocritical lives. If you can’t stand that word, then suffice it to say that their lives did not reflect Christ’s calling.
The Gospel of today challenges us to be more conscious about our actions. We are called to be merciful and, at times, to sacrifice our wants and desires, to leave our comfort zones and conformity and start living the life that you are meant to live. I pray that we may grow every day, even if it is painful, that we learn to forgive and act with compassion; that we may learn to keep our mouths shut and open our lips only for God’s praises. I pray that we be more loving and less gossiping, I pray for a happy death and for life everlasting. God bless!
Fr. Marc Angelo, PO Box 3414, Culver City, CA 90231
Mass every Sunday at 6:00pm at St. Mary’s in Palms 3647 Watseka Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90034-3914
Every last Sunday of the month mass in Spanish at 4:00 pm and English at 6:00 pm.