Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Sister Nina Vandamme, SNDdeN

Jul 6, 2022 | Gospel Reflections

Glimpses of God’s Goodness – Sr. Nina Vandamme

July 10, 2022


Luke 10: 25-37

The story of the Good Samaritan … who hasn’t listened to that story as a child? It sounds so familiar, and we are quickly inclined to say: Yeah, we know that story. But do we know it? Do we really know it? Is it something we remember? Something we know in our heads, or in our hearts? The important question is: ‘What do we do with it?’ We – that means you and I, all of us. Let us explore together so that we hear, see, feel, and get down to work and do what needs to be done.
The expert in the law presents himself as having the best of intentions. He wants to gain eternal life and therefore asks Jesus a question. But his motivation in asking Jesus this question is not 100% pure. He wants to test Jesus. Actually, he wants to know if Jesus follows the law. He wants to use the law to judge Jesus. Jesus sees through his fine words and asks a counter-question: ‘What does the law say?’
The expert in the law displays his knowledge by citing from the law ‘from memory’. Has his knowledge reached his heart, his soul … and is it infused with all his strength and understanding? Having knowledge of the law presupposes a major commitment of the heart.
Jesus praises the answer of the expert and simply says: ‘Do that then.’ The concept of ‘neighbour’ strikes the expert in the law as strange to him because he is not committed in his heart, but he wants to justify himself in asking this question. Jesus senses that there’s no point in discussing this, so he tells a parable.
The parable talks about someone you just come across, is in need, and appeals to you for help. You don’t always respond to this appeal with open arms – you do have a lot of other things to do. Going out of your way to avoid it, as the priest and the Levite do, is easiest, but not the best display of love. And here it becomes clear that the only law is ‘love’. We see this depicted in the Good Samaritan. He knows the law of love, the law that speaks to his heart, his soul, with all his strength and understanding. He knows who his neighbour is, even though this disrupts his travel plans. He sees the man lying there, feels compassion for him in his heart; he goes to him, bandaging his injuries with wine and oil, puts the man on his own donkey, brings him to the inn, sees that he is taken care of, and foots the bill. He will cover any remaining expenses on his trip back. Once your heart is touched, you get moving, and love is translated into deeds, for the law of love goes far beyond the reasonable.
Jesus is a superb teacher. He asks the expert in the law which of the travellers was neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of thieves. Jesus himself does not pronounce any judgment; he lets the expert judge. Then he adds: ‘Go then and do likewise.’
For reflection:
– What are my motivations when I talk about the law, guidelines, and/or agreements?

– Do I use precepts and laws primarily for myself or for others?

– Am I prepared to have my plans for the day disrupted by unexpected things that demand the commitment of my heart?


Luke 10: 25-37

There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test him and said,”Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read it?” He said in reply, You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” He replied to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.”
But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

Jesus replied, “A man fell victim to robbers as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. They stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half-dead. A priest happened to be going down that road, but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. Likewise a Levite came to the place, and when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight. He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them. Then he lifted him up on his own animal, took him to an inn, and cared for him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction, ‘Take care of him. If you spend more than what I have given you, I shall repay you on my way back.’ Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?”
He answered, “The one who treated him with mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

The Gospel of the Lord.



Meet Sister Nina Vandamme, SNDdeN

Nina Vandamme was born in Antwerp in Belgium: she entered the Sisters of Notre Dame at the 8th of September 1967. Before entering the Sisters of Notre Dame, she taught for 3 years at the first year of a primary school in Antwerp. After her novitiate, she taught for 9 years at the SND primary school in Berchem again in the first year and worked for another 9 years as a remedial teacher for children with learning difficulties in the same school. After that she was missioned as a principal to the primary school and kindergarten of Antwerp for 13 years. Sr. Nina is very grateful for what she has been able to learn from children. She says: “They have been my teachers. I sometimes wonder who was teaching whom: did I teach them or did they teach me?” She responds: “The answer is probably: ‘a bit of both’, but at all events I owe them a great debt–especially, those who challenged me to keep searching until I found what they needed and refused to let me give up.”