This weekend we celebrate the Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Sunday’s Gospel passage is the familiar story of the Good Samaritan. Most of us know it very well, so I won’t go into detail recounting the story. There are at least five characters in the story: 1) the man robbed, beaten, and left to die, 2) a priest, 3) a Levite, 4) a Samaritan, and 5) the Inn Keeper. A spiritual exercise patterned after that of Saint Ignatius of Loyola (whose spirituality has influenced the Sisters of Saint Joseph as they were founded by a Jesuit) might ask the question: “In this Gospel story, with whom do I most identify?” It is a quite different question than we might often ask ourselves, like: “In this Gospel passage, which person responds in a Christ-like manner and how can I better act in the same manner?” In reflecting upon the Gospel, none of us would probably choose to identify with the person robbed, beaten and near death but some of us are, or have been that person. I don’t think many of us would want to be the priest or the Levite who were so conscious of their status that they could not engage in any way with a Samaritan. Perhaps some of us might like to see ourselves as the Samaritan, reaching out to another in need. And others might be comfortable seeing themselves in the role of the Inn Keeper, caring for another who is in the process of healing. Whomever we would like to imitate provides material for good spiritual reflection. However, our interior disposition and seeing it reflected in one of the Gospel characters can bring about an even more fruitful reflection. It shapes the way in which we respond to the Gospel with a new heart. Meditating on the stories of Jesus from the lens of “who we are” creates the opportunity for honest spiritual reflection. I remember an experience several years ago when I was on a directed retreat. One of the assigned spiritual exercises that my director, Father David, asked me do was to pray with this particular Scripture passage (the Good Samaritan). In my reflection, he asked me to imagine myself as the person “lying in the ditch” who was beaten. I was asked to answer the following questions: How did I get there? Who were the three people that passed by? What was their reaction? How did I respond? It was one of the most powerful and difficult reflections I had to do during that retreat. Left on my own, the most unlikely person I would have identified with was the man robbed, beaten, and left for dead. I certainly wasn’t focusing on my need for healing. Sometimes when we are hurt intentionally and put it in the Christian perspective, we realize that others may come to help us but that we, too, must help ourselves. It makes us come to grips with the teaching of Jesus, “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” This week, I invite you to reflect upon today’s Gospel passage and identify with the person who seems to be “where you are” these days. Then, ask the Lord, what he wants to reveal to you through that Gospel character. You may receive some new insights from the Holy Spirit.
I am very pleased to see that CSA pledges continue to be made. This week we actually reached 90% ($49,650.75) of our assessment in pledges. This is wonderful and we are so close to making 100% of our pledge! I know that we can do it. Thus far, 285 of our households have made a pledge. Thank you so much for your generosity, and for supporting the needs of the wider church. We are now only $5,309.25 from reaching our assessment. Last year we received 312 pledges for CSA. Just think where we would be this year with 27 more pledges. And, if everyone did their part, just think where we would be if all 412 households made a pledge.
As you know, Saint John Paul II Parish t-shirts are on sale. They are 50% cotton/50% polyester blend and have the parish logo (shield and gold cross) with the parish name printed on the front of the t-shirts. I hope you are planning to get one so that you can wear it for some of our upcoming events and activities, one being our parish picnic (here on the parish grounds) on September 18. Last week an order form was provided in the parish bulletin. Extra order forms are available at the church entrances and at the parish office. Sample colors and sizes will continue to be available in the main entrance of church. The absolute deadline for ordering is Wednesday, July 20.
Blessings on your week!
Sister Chris Gretka, CSJ