Sunday, 14 July 2019
Jesus is the Good Samaritan, 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
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.