15th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C Archdiocese of Wellington The present ecological crisis calls us to new ways of being neighbour. We used to speak in terms of thinking globally and acting locally.
If we are to be neighbour in our times, we need to think cosmically as well as globally, and to act globally as well as locally.
Thinking cosmically means embracing the entire 13.7 billion-year story of our expanding and evolving universe. It means accepting our cosmic identity and our intimate connectedness to the whole of creation. Thinking cosmically elicits wonder and respect for all created beings and especially for God who is Source and Sustainer of all Creation. Cosmic thinking provides a context for acting globally and locally, for being neighbour in our local and global environments.
Today’s gospel story is about being neighbour. It foregrounds the human characters and their relationships with each other. The lawyer who questions Jesus is trying to catch him out. Like Jesus’ audience, this legal expert knows the Jewish law regarding love of God and of one’s neighbour and answers Jesus’ first question correctly.
This leads to another ‘test’ question: ‘Who is my neighbour?’ Jesus replies with a subversive story that ends in yet another question: ‘Which of these three was neighbour…?’
The lawyer cannot avoid the obvious answer, though it would cost a Jewish legal expert dearly to admit that a Samaritan could be neighbour to a Jew in need. Rather than utter the word ‘Samaritan’ he answers obliquely, ‘the one who showed mercy’.
The Samaritan is ‘moved with compassion’, literally ‘moved in the depths of his being’. The Samaritan befriends the wounded traveller and draws on all his resources to care for him: wine and oil to dress the wounds, his ‘own animal’ as transport, finance for accommodation, companionship at the inn, provision for ongoing care. The story offers the shocking suggestion that a Samaritan knows more about love of God and of neighbour than do those who officiate in Temple worship, namely the priest and the Levite who ‘pass by’. If we substitute ‘Al Qaeda’ or ‘Taliban operative’ for ‘Samaritan’, we might begin to understand the power of this parable and the grace that it can offer.
Cosmic thinking invites us to focus not just on the human characters from different cultures and social strata in this story, but also on the neighbourly animal, the fruit of the vine and of the olive grove, and the silver coins formed of material extracted from the earth and engaged as signs of compassionate neighbourly love. It invites us to reverence all of creation and the Creator of all that is.