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Father Muench Says...

Powerful lessons in the July Gospels

July 17, 2019

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

This week, I could not help but notice that the Gospel readings for the Sundays during the month of July put together a powerful message about Jesus. They give us a magnificent picture of the Jesus who came to live among us. These readings give us a good understanding of how to live as Jesus taught us to live. Each of these Gospel readings are from the same chapter of the Gospel of St. Luke, Chapter 10. I would like to share some of these ideas with you, today.

As this chapter begins, Jesus chooses 72 disciples to visit places that he planned to visit personally. Jesus instructed them to prepare the place and the people to receive Jesus. Now, in our present time, you and I are part of that group of 72 – all of us. As Catholics, I believe that we all have been called to prepare our world to receive Jesus. This, we now call a vocation – we are called and guided each day by the Lord.

I believe in vocation – the presence of the Lord in my life – that led me, as it does so many others, to choose a religious vocation. This was a call that led me to choose to become an ordained priest. This is the call that leads many to choose to be ordained a deacon. This is the call that leads many to choose to become a religious Sister or Brother.

The Second Vatican Council reminds us that everyone of us has a vocation – a call from God, a purpose in life, not just the priests or religious, but all of us dedicated to the Lord, Jesus. Everyone has a life of eternal value. Everyone has a vocation. Like those 72, we are called to be disciples of Jesus. We are called to lead lives that leads others to the Lord, lives that prepares others to find the presence of our God.

On one of the Sundays this month, the Gospel reading presents to us the familiar parable of Jesus, the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Remember, these parables are powerful stories that Jesus tells us. They didn’t really happen. Jesus carefully puts them together as a story to teach. The Parable of the Good Samaritan is Jesus’ message for us to realize the importance of compassion for a good Christian. A man is robbed and beaten and left. He is ignored by a priest and a Levite. In Jesus’ story, a Samaritan, one of that group that were considered unworthy, even enemies by the Jews, is the one who helps the injured man. Jesus makes it clear to us as his disciples that we should be compassionate like the Good Samaritan who helped someone in need, unconcerned whether it is a friend or foe. Being like the Good Samaritan is being compassionate like Jesus.

One other message in this Parable. The priest and the Levite who pass by are on their way to the temple for religious rituals. However, they know that if they as much as touch the injured man, they would not be allowed to participate in prayer. They decide to go to the temple. Jesus criticizes them. In this, he teaches us that compassion and reaching out to help others is more important for his disciples than even prayer.

We read on another Sunday about Jesus’ visit to a family, Martha, Mary and Lazarus. This family comes up often in the Gospels as friends of Jesus. It is good for us to realize that Jesus was close to friends and to families. Jesus speaks of us as his friends. He wants to be part of our lives as a friend. He wants us to approach him as a friend in love and peace.

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