Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time  -  

July 14, 2019

One of my favorite authors is Michael Perry – it’s a name you might recognize from his weekly column in the “Wisconsin State Journal.”  His first book that he wrote, over a decade was: Population 485:  Getting to Know Your Neighbors One Siren at a Time.   Perry writes from the perspective of a volunteer firefighter-EMT in New Auburn, Wisconsin.  (For those of you who don’t know where that is, it’s between Chetek and Bloomer.) He’s one of the 485 people who lived there, and still does.  It’s a wonderful reflection-philosophy of life woven around his stories of the blessings he found in getting to know his neighbors, in his case, one siren at a time.

Perry serves on the volunteer Fire Department not because he wants to be a hero, but he knows that someday he might be the man trapped in his wrecked car that needs to be cut out, or the man with chest pains who fears that he might not walk away from this one.  Most likely, he writes, he’d probably be the guy who pours too much lighter fluid on the grill and starts the garage on fire. And then he’ll need a neighbor, too.

We might get the impression from the gospel story that the Samaritan was an exception, that he went above and beyond what would be expected as he helped the injured man along the side of the road, that he was a hero.  Others passed by the injured man and all had legitimate excuses, so we could see the Samaritan somehow as a sort of a hero. But Jesus was not describing a hero, was he? He was describing a neighbor.

What Jesus tried to teach it by way of a parable, Michael Perry teaches by small-town stories of rescues and recoveries.  They both would agree with Moses, I think, that this is not too mysterious and remote; it is something already in our mouths and in our hearts.  They would agree with St. Paul as he presented his Christology in his letters to the church, that all -everything- was created through Christ and everything was created for Christ, therefore, we are intimately connected, held together by the invisible Christ. 

What we are talking about here is not all that complicated; it’s not “rocket science.”  And we are not all called be heroes. Just this: Love God. Love our neighbors. All of them.  No exceptions. No excuses.

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