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July 15th, 2001
Catholic Homilies
July 15th, 2001

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Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Lk 10/25-37


There are many different interpretations for this rich and allusive story of Jesus, a masterpiece of creative story telling if there every was one. An interpretation (by Robert Funk of Jesus Seminar fame) seems especially insightful. A parable has but one metaphor, though that metaphor can admit to man possible readings. The theme of this story is surprise. The Jewish man is utterly astonished by the generosity of the Samaritan. Why is the man so good to him? Why waste his time, why risk his life from a possible attack by the same bandits? Why spend his money to the injured man? Such goodness is so extraordinary as to be virtually unbelievable. According to Professor Funk, God is the Good Samaritan, the master of generous surprises. In the kingdom of God's mercy, one must always be prepared for surprises.

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Once upon a time a certain woman went on a vacation with her husband and children. She didn't want to go on a vacation because she had been on them before and she knew they meant more work for her. A vacation was like being home, only you had your husband and your kids under your feet all the time and not just part of the day. Moreover, they all made more demands on you as they tried to adjust to a strange place. Finally, towards the end of hot, humid days on the beach, everyone was irritable and looking for a fight. This was fun? Especially for a mommy? Gimme a break! However, she was overruled, especially by her children. So they went on a vacation. It was even worse than last year. The weather was hot and humid every day for two weeks, except for two evening thunderstorms which knocked out both the television and the freezer. The kids missed their friends. Her husband was on the phone to his office every day. Relax? You gotta be kidding!  So she didn't notice how helpful the rest of the family was, how easily her kids made friends, how beautiful were the water and the sky, how rich were the sunsets, how warm the water was for swimming, how nice her husband was when he wasn't on the phone, how good the meals were at the local restaurants, how friendly the neighbors were, how much fun they had on small sailboats. Because she was judging by previous vacations, she was not ready for surprises. When the surprises came, she missed them.

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