Sunday, 14 July 2019
WHO was the Good Samaritan?
We’ve all heard the parable about him countless times, and we might well think we have nothing new to learn about it.
But I want, today, to offer you an interpretation of the parable so ancient that it has been largely forgotten. When the original 12 Apostles died, the generations of bishops and writers who came after them are given the title, ‘the Fathers of the Church’.
These ‘Fathers’ were all unanimous in how they interpreted the parable, and in WHO they thought the Good Samaritan was:
The Lord JESUS is the Good Samaritan.
And, when we hear the parable with this understanding, his actions in the parable acquire a whole new level of significance.
You can read about the Fathers’ interpretation in the collection the Catena Aurea (see here).
The Fathers start by noting that the MAN going from Jerusalem to Jericho signifies ALL of humanity, departing from Paradise (signified by Jerusalem) and going to the world (Jericho). Fallen humanity has departed from God.
The Fathers then interpret the BRIGANDS who assail the man as the demons assailing us;
and the WOUNDED STATE they leave him in as the wounded state we experience our fallen human nature in -prone to sin, weak, inclined to evil.
Humanity, weakened by having departed form God,
wounded in our inclination to fall and fall again in sin,
humanity NEEDS someone to come and rescue us.
And Jesus comes, He is the ‘Good Samaritan’.
(1) The OIL and WINE that given to the wounded man are symbolic of the Sacraments that He gives for our healing and strengthening.
(2) The man is LIFTED up “on to his mount” -symbolic of how the Lord Jesus lifts us up:
(a) As Isaiah prophesied, He “has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows” (Isa 53:4); and,
(b) He has lifted us up in the sense that He helps us carry what we cannot carry alone -all of our daily toils.
(3) The TWO COINS He used to pay the innkeeper: the Fathers interpret these, too:
(a) He paid the DEBT our sins;
(b) He has paid them WITH everything He had to give: two coins symbolising His humanity and His divinity.
(4) He is the one who “took pity” (Lk 10:37) on us.
To sum up:
That MAN who was laid upon by brigands, that man is humanity, you and me.
The one who CAME and RESCUED us, the Good Samaritan, was the Lord Jesus.
You and I, if we are Christians, are called to imitate Christ.
Which means that the closing verse of the passage, “Go, and do likewise”(Lk 10:37), takes on a whole new level of significance.
Our “NEIGHBOUR” is, in fact, you and me.
Christ has “taken pity” on us.
We should do the same to all those in need.
Sunday, 7 July 2019
We just heard about how the Lord sent “the 72” out to preach, to go to the places that He was to go to, to prepare the way.
This is a good moment, therefore, to think about the different ways that EACH of us have been chosen and sent by God, sent to prepare the way for Him, sent to make Him known.
We can tend to think that only “expert” missionaries, professionals like priests and nuns, are sent. But the constant teaching of all the recent popes, all those calling us to a “New Evangelisation” -it’s their repeated teaching that ALL the baptised, each and every one of us, of you, are called to be missionaries.
The LAITY who live in the MIDST of the world, in the midst of the UNBELIEVING world, are the ones who have the PRIMARY task of bringing knowledge of Christ to the people in that unbelieving world.
Let me note three things in this regard, three things if we are to be effective.
First, we need to be clear in our own minds that people NEED God, even when they deny it.
We can see that a life without God, a society with God is not happier society.
People have their iPhones and cars and central heating -but without meaning, without God, there is an EMPTINESS to it all.
People need to know about God, and if WE are the people MEETING such people, then we are the ones who need to convey this to them.
Second, we need to prepare the way for the Lord by the witness of our own lives, our example.
The most BASIC thing here, for a society that has forgotten GOD,
is to see that WE have not forgotten God.
Our lives need to give testimony to the reality that God exists, that there is a Creator, a Lord of earth and heaven.
The first and greatest commanding, according to both the Lord Jesus and the Old Testament, is to love God FIRST. Do our lives show this? The pattern of a simple practicing Catholic should show this.
A world that has forgotten God, should see that:
A practicing Catholic prays daily,
A practicing Catholic goes to Mass every Sunday
-and that in my planning this, my priorities put God first.
A world that has forgotten sin, forgotten that our deeds can offend God:
Should see that a practicing Catholic goes to confession at least once a month.
A world that is immersed in selfishness and consumerism and me, me, me:
Should see that we fast, give things up in Lent, abstain from meat on Fridays
-we don’t just live for pleasure and comfort.
These are SIMPLE things, but our living them, our faithfulness to them, says something.
Third, and finally, if we are to prepare the way for the Lord, then we need to be ready and willing to TALK about Him to others.
This can be the most embarrassing thing, most awkward thing.
To talk to people about this person they cannot see,
To talk to people about this God I love,
-who loves me and who loves them -it can be embarrassing to talk about love.
And it can be awkward, also, to talk about lifestyles and sin,
and about how certain behaviour is contrary to what God has told us.
But we can’t prepare the way for Him to come if we’re not willing to speak about Him,
if we’re not looking for opportunities to talk about Him.
We have been sent to do so.
If God matters, then it matters that we lead people to Him.
Three points, in summary:
We need to be clear that it matters, that He is real, and that life is better with Him.
We need to embody a pattern of prayer and worship that shows that we put God first.
We, finally, to be willing to talk about Him.