The Gospel for Sunday, July 15, 2007
Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
By following the example of her divine Founder, the Church, "from century to century ... has re-enacted the Gospel parable of the Good Samaritan, revealing and communicating her healing love and the consolation of Jesus Christ.... This came about through the untiring commitment of the Christian community and all those who have taken care of the sick and suffering ... as well as the skilled and generous service of health-care workers" (Christifideles laici, n. 53). This commitment does not derive from specific social situations, nor should it be understood as an optional or fortuitous act, but is an intransgressible response to Christ's command: "he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every infirmity" (Mt 10:1, cf. 7-8).
The service rendered to the person who is suffering in body and soul takes its meaning from the Eucharist, finding in it not only its source but also its norm. It was not by chance that Jesus closely united the Eucharist with service (Jn 13:2-16), asking the disciples to perpetuate in memory of him not only the "breaking of the bread", but also the "washing of the feet".
The example of Christ, the good Samaritan, must inspire the believer's attitude, prompting him to be "close" to his brothers and sisters who are suffering, through respect, understanding, acceptance, tenderness, compassion and gratuitousness. It is a question of fighting the indifference that makes individuals and groups withdraw selfishly into themselves. To this end, "the family, the school and other educational institutions must, if only for humanitarian reasons, work perseveringly for the reawakening and refining of that sensitivity towards one's neighbour and his suffering" (Salvifici doloris, n. 29). For the believer, this human sensitivity is expressed in the agape, that is, in supernatural love, which brings one to love one's neighbour for love of God. In fact, guided by faith and surrounding with affectionate care those who are afflicted by human suffering, the Church recognizes in them the image of her poor and suffering Founder and is concerned to alleviate their suffering, mindful of his words: "I was sick and you visited me" (Mt 25:36).
The example of Jesus, the good Samaritan, not only spurs one to help the sick, but also to do all one can to reintegrate him in society. For Christ, in fact, healing is also this reintegration: just as sickness excludes the human being from the community, so healing must bring him to rediscover his place in the family, in the Church and in society.
Jesus did not only treat and heal the sick, but he was also a tireless promoter of health through his saving presence, teaching and action. His love for man was expressed in relationships full of humanity, which led him to understand, to show compassion and bring comfort, harmoniously combining tenderness and strength. He was moved by the beauty of nature, he was sensitive to human suffering, he fought evil and injustice. He faced the negative aspects of this experience courageously and, fully aware of the implications, communicated the certainty of a new world. In him, the human condition showed its face redeemed and the deepest human aspirations found fulfillment.
He wants to communicate this harmonious fullness of life to people today. His saving action not only aims to meet the needs of human people, victims of their own limits and errors, but to sustain their efforts for total self-fulfillment. He opens the prospect of divine life to man: "I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly" (Jn 10:10).
Called to continue Jesus' mission, the Church must seek to promote a full and ordered life for everyone.