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Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

First Reading
Deuteronomy 30:10-14
Moses reminds the people that God’s commandments are not remote but are already in their hearts.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 69:14,17,30-31,36-37
Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live.

Second Reading
Colossians 1:15-20
Jesus is the head of the body, the Church.

Gospel Reading
Luke 10:25-37
The parable of the Good Samaritan

Background on the Gospel Reading

As Jesus continues his journey to Jerusalem, he is confronted by a scholar of the law who wants to test him. In the Gospels of Mark and Matthew, Jesus is asked about the greatest commandment. Here, in Luke’s Gospel, the lawyer asks what we must do to inherit eternal life. In the other two Gospels, Jesus answers the question by quoting Deuteronomy 6:5, on loving God with all your heart, and Leviticus 19:18, on loving your neighbor. Here Jesus asks the expert to answer this question, “What is written in the law?” The man is caught and responds with Deuteronomy 6:5. This verse is one of the most important prayers in Judaism, and it was said twice a day in Jesus’ time. Love of God and love of neighbor are what is required for eternal life. Jesus’ response is simple, “Do this and you will live.”

Having been shown up by Jesus, the lawyer tries another question: Who is my neighbor whom I must love like myself? In the society of Jesus’ time, with its distinctions between Jews and Gentiles, men and women, clean and unclean, this was a trick question. Jesus responds with one of the most beautiful of all the parables, the Good Samaritan. It is found only in Luke’s Gospel.

The road from Jerusalem to Jericho descends 3,300 feet in just 17 miles. Its narrow passes and rocky terrain made it an easy place for bandits to wait for travelers. The traveler in this parable is identified only as “a certain man.” Luke uses this phrase in many of his parables so that the audience, Jew or Gentile, could identify with the man. After the attack, the man is left for dead, naked and bleeding on the side of the road. A priest comes along, but rather than helping, as one might expect, he moves to the other side of the road. Another religious person comes along, a Levite who assists in the Temple. His reaction is the same as the priest’s. Both of them choose to not even find out if the man is alive. A third person comes along. The listeners would probably expect him to be an Israelite. This would make the parable a criticism of the religious leadership. Instead he is a Samaritan, an Israelite’s most hated neighbor. Samaritans were descendents of Jews from the northern part of the country, who had intermarried with Gentiles and did not worship in Jerusalem. The Samaritan not only goes over to the injured man but cleans his wounds, puts him on his own animal, takes him to an inn to recover, and promises to pay all his expenses. The hated enemy is the compassionate neighbor in this parable.

Jesus has demolished all boundary expectations. It is not social definitions such as class, religion, gender, or ethnicity that determines who is our neighbor. A neighbor is a person who acts with compassion toward another. The point becomes not who deserves to be loved as I love myself, but that I become a person who treats everyone with compassion.

When Jesus asks the lawyer who was the neighbor in the story, the lawyer can’t bring himself to say it was the Samaritan. All he says is that it was “the one who treated him with mercy.” Jesus’ response was similar to that of the first discussion: “Go and do likewise.” The lawyer, and we, know what is right. The key is to do it.- loyolapress.com

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

First Reading
Isaiah 66:10-14c
I will spread prosperity over Jerusalem like a river.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 123:1-4
Our eyes are fixed on the Lord.

Second Reading
Galatians 6:14-18
May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Gospel Reading
Luke 10:1-12,17-20
Jesus sends out 72 people to announce the coming kingdom.

Background on the Gospel Reading

Today’s Gospel begins immediately after the final verse in last Sunday’s Gospel. After strong language about the difficulties of discipleship, Jesus immediately appoints 72 people to go ahead of him to every town and place he plans to visit, proclaiming that the Kingdom of God is at hand. He sends them in pairs. In the Law of Moses two witnesses were needed for a testimony to be credible. It was probably also a safer way to travel.

Jesus admits it will be difficult, that he is sending them out like lambs among wolves. Yet they are to bring nothing with them, not even a money bag or sandals. They are to greet no one on the way so as not to be distracted from their mission. When they enter a house, their message is simply “peace.” The response they will receive may be positive or negative. Either way, they are to know that the Kingdom of God is at hand. They are not to demand special treatment but eat and drink whatever is given them. They are to stay in one house and are not to look around for one that provides better accommodations. They are to heal the sick as a sign that the Kingdom of God is at hand for them. Like Jesus’ miracles, healing is a sign of the coming of the kingdom. If the town will not receive them, they are to shake the dust from their feet and move on. Even in the case of such rejection they should know that the Kingdom of God is at hand.

When they return from their journeys, they are rejoicing because their mission has been successful. Demons were under their power because of Jesus’ name. Jesus may have sent them out as lambs among wolves, but at the conclusion of this passage he assures them that they have been given power over the enemy and nothing will harm them, not even serpents and scorpions.

A key theme of today’s Gospel and last Sunday’s Gospel is discipleship—its challenges, its difficulties, and its rewards. Sharing in the mission of Jesus is difficult, but everyone is called to do it, not just some professionals trained for ministry. Even for us today, the harvest is plentiful. We should pray to the master of the harvest to send out workers for his harvest.- loyolapress.com

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

First Reading
1 Kings 19:16b,19-21
Elijah anoints Elisha as his successor.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 16:1-2,5,7-11
I set the Lord ever before me.

Second Reading
Galatians 5:1,13-18
Christ has set us free.

Gospel Reading
Luke 9:51-62
Jesus resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem.

Background on the Gospel Reading

Today’s Gospel reading begins a long section unique to Luke’s Gospel. Jesus begins his journey to Jerusalem, which will end with his ministry in Jerusalem. We read that Jesus’ days for being “taken up” were fulfilled. The Greek word that Luke uses for “taken up” is the same word he uses to describe the Ascension. We also read that Jesus is determined to journey to Jerusalem. For Luke, Jesus ministry begins in Galilee and then is one long journey to Jerusalem. In Jerusalem he will meet his death but also enter into his glory. Only in Luke does Jesus then spend 40 days in Jerusalem instructing his disciples. It is in Jerusalem that his disciples wait after his Ascension to be sent the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. And it is from Jerusalem, in Luke’s second volume, the Acts of the Apostles, that the Good News is spread to Rome and the ends of the earth.

Immediately Jesus is met with rejection, as a Samaritan village will not receive him because he is going to Jerusalem. There was animosity between Samaritans who worshiped on Mount Gerazim and Jews who worshiped in Jerusalem. Jesus was also rejected as he began his ministry in Galilee in Chapter 4. And he will be rejected for the last time when he reaches Jerusalem. James and John want to call down fire from heaven to destroy the people in the village, but Jesus rebukes them and moves on. There is often the temptation to use violence to achieve right. Jesus has come to break this temptation. He is aware that he must undergo violence himself before he can enter his glory.

The rest of today’s reading is about the radical demands of discipleship. The three people who volunteer to become disciples on this journey show that they do not understand the demands Jesus will make of them. Neither care of self, care for the dead, nor care of one’s family (as required by the Fourth Commandment) can come before the demands of discipleship. Jesus reminds the first volunteer, who would go wherever Jesus goes, that animals in the wild have more security than do Jesus and his followers. The second, who wants to bury a parent, is reminded that the demands of proclaiming the Kingdom of God take precedence. And the third, who wants to say farewell to his family, is reminded that once you put your hand to the plow you cannot look back or the furrow will be crooked. Such a person is not ready for the Kingdom of God.

Jesus seems harsh here, but he is only asking of his disciples what he asks of himself. Jesus’ unconditional commitment to God’s saving work will demand of him his life. He knows this, but the disciples do not understand. Jesus does not want anyone to rush into discipleship, because the demands of discipleship require everyone considering it to be aware of the cost, make Jesus and his mission central to his life, and then go forward without looking back.-loyolapress.com

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, Cycle C

First Reading
Genesis 14:18-20
Melchizedek, king of Salem, blessed Abram.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 110:1-4
You are a priest forever, in the line of Melchizedek.

Second Reading
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
As often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.

Gospel Reading
Luke 9:11b-17
They all ate and were satisfied.

Background on the Gospel Reading

Today, the second Sunday after Pentecost, we celebrate a second solemnity, which marks our return to Ordinary Time. Today is the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. At one time, this day was called Corpus Christi, Latin for “the Body of Christ.” In the most recent revision of the liturgy, the name for this day is expanded to be a more complete reflection of our Eucharistic theology.

The feeding of the 5,000 is the only one of Jesus’ miracles to appear in all four Gospels. Luke places it between Herod’s question, “Who is this about whom I hear such things?” and Peter’s response to Jesus’ question about who he thought Jesus was: “You are the Messiah of God.” In Luke the feeding is not the result of Jesus’ compassion for the crowd but is instigated by the disciples. They wanted Jesus to send the crowd away to town. Instead Jesus tells the disciples to give them some food on their own.

The passage is meant to remind us of two feedings in the Old Testament: the feeding of the Israelites in the desert and Elisha’s feeding of 100 people with 20 loaves in 2 Kings 4:42-44. It is also connected to the institution of the Eucharist. As in the Last Supper accounts in Matthew, Mark, and Luke and in Paul’s account in 1 Corinthians 11:23-24, Jesus takes bread, looks up to heaven, blesses the bread, breaks it, and then gives it to the disciples. In using this exact language, Luke is reminding his readers that in this miracle Jesus is doing more than feeding hungry people as God did for the Israelites and the prophet Elisha did as well. The bread he gives is his body, which he will continue to give as often as the community breaks bread in remembrance of him in the Eucharist.- loyolapress.com

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Cycle C

First Reading
Proverbs 8:22-31
Wisdom was born before the earth was made.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 8:4-9
O Lord, our God, how wonderful your name in all the earth!

Second Reading
Romans 5:1-5
We boast of our afflictions.

Gospel Reading
John 16:12-15
Whatever the Father has is mine. The Spirit of truth will guide us.

Background on the Gospel Reading

This week we return to the liturgical season of Ordinary Time. This Sunday and next Sunday, however, are designated as solemnities, special days that call our attention to central mysteries of our faith. Today, on the first Sunday after Pentecost, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. This feast invites us to consider what we believe about God, who has revealed himself to us in the Trinity—one God in three persons.

The verses of today’s Gospel come near the end of Jesus’ long discourse at the Last Supper. In the early part of this discourse, as we saw last week on Pentecost, Jesus offers assurances to the disciples. Even though he must leave the disciples, he tells them that they will have a future because of the help he will send them in the Holy Spirit. In this section he focuses more on the shape of the future, which will include Jesus’ victory over the world that they will share in. The disciples of Jesus cannot know the future. They can only know that, whatever shape the future takes, they will not have to face it alone. They have the Spirit of Truth, who will continue to provide the teaching of Jesus in the future.

Reading this passage on Trinity Sunday reinforces our understanding of the unity shared by the members of the Trinity. Although the idea of one God in three persons remains a mystery, we have the assurance that, as Jesus and the Father share all, Jesus and the Spirit share all.– loyolapress.com

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