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15th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Ages 3-6): The Name of God is Mercy

(Adults, this is a moral parable and 3-6 year olds do not need this yet! They simply need time to enjoy falling in love with God. We will not rob them of this idyllic moment; this reflection focuses not on what we must do, but on who God is.)

Often, when we listen to stories about Jesus in the Bible, we hear the word "mercy." We wonder what mercy might mean. In the Gospel for this Sunday, Jesus tells us a story to show us what mercy looks like.

A man stands up to tell Jesus what he has read in the Bible.

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbour as yourself.”

Jesus knows this already. Jesus loves God so much. But why? Why does he love God?

Jesus does not like to explain. Instead, he likes to show what he knows. Jesus begins to tell this story:

A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell...

Oh, dear. Poor man. He needs help. Who will help him?

a Samaritan while travelling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity.

A Samaritan is a person from another country.

The man who needs help does not know the Samaritan.

But the Samaritan sees the man who needs help and deep inside his body he feels badly. Why?

The Samaritan knows how it feels to need someone but there is no one around to help. He knows it does not feel good.

The Samaritan knows the man who needs help is hurt and scared.

What will the Samaritan do?

He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them.

When we get hurt, we need someone to come to take care of us. We need someone to clean the cuts and scrapes (even though it stings! Ow-we-ow-ow-ow!) The Samaritan cleans the man's cuts and scrapes with his oil and wine—the only kind of medicine he has—and bandages them all up. That must make the man feel better. The man who needs help did not know the Samaritan but now he knows the Samaritan is kind.

Photo by Diana Polekhina on Unsplash

Does the man have to pay the Samaritan? No, this is a gift.

Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.

The man cannot walk, so the Samaritan puts him on his horse or camel or donkey. He takes him to an inn—a place to stay, like a hotel—and takes good care of the poor man who needs help. The man who needs help did not know the Samaritan before, but now he knows the Samaritan cares.

Does the man have to pay the Samaritan? No, this is a gift.

The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, “Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.”

The man who needed help knows the Samaritan now. The Samaritan has taken care of him all night long. He will come back to check on him. The man knows the Samaritan is good.

Does the man have to pay the Samaritan? No, this is a gift.

The man did not know the Samaritan before. But now, what does he know?

He knows goodness and kindness.

When he was in need, the Samaritan came and gave him all the care in the world.

He has everything he needs.

He has received a gift.

But the man does not even know the Good Samaritan's name! What can he call him? How can he thank him?

The man knows that the Good Samaritan is:

the one who showed him mercy.

Maybe that's what we can call him. Mercy.

Jesus tells us this parable because Jesus knows something about God.

Jesus knows the gift of goodness and kindness.

Jesus knows the gift of all the care in the world.

Jesus knows mercy.

No wonder Jesus loves God. He knows God.

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