Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 14, 2019 – Year C
Readings: Dt 30:10-14 / Ps 69 / Col 1:15-20 / Lk 10:25-37
by Father Paul O’Donnell Duggan, Guest Celebrant
Are you familiar with the name Serena Williams? She almost made history yesterday. She just missed out on getting her twenty-fourth Grand Slam title in London yesterday, which would have equaled a great idol of mine when I was growing up, Margaret Smith. She is the greatest holder of the title – she used to play Billie Jean King. If Serena had won yesterday, she would have equaled Margaret Smith’s record.
About two weeks ago there was another big event in the life of Serena Williams. She joins the ranks of Michael Phelps, Tiger Woods, Babe Ruth, Mary Lou Retton, Michael Jordan – all famous for having their pictures on the Wheaties box. She said, “I have dreamt of this since I was a young woman, and it is an honor to join the ranks of some of America’s most decorated athletes. I hope my image on this iconic orange box will inspire the next generation of girls and athletes to dream big.”
Will my photo ever be on the Wheaties box? Probably not. But today’s word from God says, “Father Paul, don’t you be worrying about your face being on a box down on earth. Your face needs to be on my cereal box in heaven!”
Going back many generations, back to the time of Oliver Cromwell in the sixteenth century, the Catholics and the Protestants in Ireland have been at odds; they have never been at peace together. So this story of the Good Samaritan would be like a Catholic who had been attacked, and a Protestant went down the road and looked after him. The Samaritans and the Jews were like the Catholics and Protestants in Ireland; they hated each other. So when the Jewish listeners heard this story, they wouldn’t have believed it. No Samaritan would have done such a thing to help out a Jew, and no Jew would have gone to the help of a Samaritan.
At the conclusion of the gospel, Jesus says, “Go and do likewise,” so I started thinking of good things that I have done just in recent days. Every day I like to go for a walk. One day I noticed this truck that saw me coming, and he stopped and reversed so that I could pass. On the way back he did the same thing, so that I did not have to step up on the curb. So I stopped and asked him if he reversed so that I could go through. He answered, “Yes.” I told him that he had just earned a higher place in heaven for being kind to an old retired priest. And he said, “Thank you! I needed an uplift today.”
And then a couple of days later, I was wearing a warm jacket, even though it was ninety degrees in Florida. The Chief of Security at the mall, whom I had never met before, said to me, “Sir, be careful. Heat stroke.” I said, “Thank you,” and continued my walking. Then I realized that I should have said something, because this was a moment that God had given me, not just to say thank you. I said, “Sorry, Lord. I messed up. If I see that man again, I will talk to him.” God made sure I saw him again. I said, “Excuse me sir, I want to thank you for your kind words about avoiding the heat stroke. God has told me to tell you that you have gotten a higher place in Heaven.” He smiled and pulled his rosary beads out of his pocket. He said, “Thank you. I needed an uplift today.”
These are signs from the Lord that when the moment comes to us, we should use them and speak up. Speak up for God; be the Good Samaritan. Go and do likewise. The Good Samaritan’s was action; he did something practical and physical. My words were able to lift up these two men because it was God speaking through me and using me. God wants to use all of us; that’s why He called us to be baptized. He said, “You are the person, you can do this.”
So Margaret Smith has twenty-four Grand Slam titles and Serena Williams has twenty-three. Every time you do a good deed for someone else, you have just won a Grand Slam title. God sends people into our lives so that we can be kind to them.
I will finish with a quote from Pope Francis. He says, “Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there’s no longer room for others, there’s no place for the poor, God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of His love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades.”
So when we come to the table this morning for Holy Communion, pray, “Lord, thank you for choosing me to be a Good Samaritan. Lord, help me to see where I can bring Your presence and lift up someone today.” And then wait for Him to respond.