Fifteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C
Saint Camillus de Lellis, Priest—Optional Memorial
(In the United States this memorial is transferred to July 18)
“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.” Luke 10:27
These words were spoken by a scholar of the law to Jesus. He was quoting the Old Testament Law of Leviticus and Deuteronomy (Leviticus 19:18, Deuteronomy 6:5, 10:12). Jesus commended him for speaking these words. But then the scholar asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus responded by telling him the familiar story of the Good Samaritan.
The story of the Good Samaritan is one that should wake us up to some not-so-pleasant truths about love of neighbor, or the lack thereof. First, a priest and a Levite walked by the beaten and suffering man on the side of the road and ignored him, passing on the opposite side of the road. Then the Samaritan walked by, was filled with compassion, and went out of his way to help the man.
The conclusion is obvious. We should be like the Good Samaritan who showed mercy to the man in need. On an intellectual level it is easy to conclude this fact. However, in practice, it is not always the case.
It’s interesting that Jesus used a priest in the story as the first person to walk on the opposite side of the road. One thing this tells us is that too often we seek a so-called “exterior holiness” while, in truth, we lack authentic “interior holiness.” The priest can be seen as a symbol of those who claim to be Christian on the surface but fail to live their holiness in their actions. Without living true love of neighbor, we are frauds and do not live up to our sacred calling.
Reflect, today, upon the difference between exterior and interior holiness. The ideal is that your inner life is so completely consumed by the love of God that it overflows into your exterior actions. If your love of God is not fully alive within the depths of your heart, there is no way that you can, in fact, be truly holy.
Lord, help me to authentically love You with my whole heart, mind, soul and strength. Help me to have such an honest love for You that it also overflows into my love for others. May Your precious gift of holiness permeate my life and enable me to love You and others in a total way. Jesus, I trust in You.