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The Good Samaritan
THE GOOD SAMARITAN – November 12, 2017
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit!
A lawyer approaches Jesus in today’s Gospel (now remember, a “lawyer” in the Bible means an expert in the Old Testament Scriptures, an expert in the law of God) and asks Him a question, testing Him:
Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? And how does Jesus answer him?
What is written in the law? how readest thou? Jesus answers the test with a test of His own! And the lawyer answered: You shall love the Lord your God will all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbour as yourself. And what did Jesus say in reply? He said, You have answered correctly: do this, and you shall live.
That should have been the end of the discussion. Asked and answered. Do this and you shall live. The problem is that the lawyer wasn’t happy, even with his own answer. Why? Because the lawyer had an agenda. And what was his agenda? To trip up Jesus. The lawyer wasn’t at all interested in getting to the truth. He wasn’t really seeking information to aid him in his soul’s salvation. His mission was to make Jesus look either stupid, or foolish, or wrong-headed, or heretical, or something, anything, in order to discredit Him! Why? Because the people were beginning to turn to Jesus for answers to their spiritual questions, their “life” questions, rather than the establishment lawyers. You see, Jesus had REAL answers for people, not the self-serving and self-aggrandizing answers that were provided by the religious leadership. People were turning to Jesus, and the lawyers, the scribes, the pharisees, they all hated him for it. So the lawyer pressed on. He couldn’t discredit Jesus for agreeing with the answer that he himself had provided, so he pressed on. “And who is my neighbour?” Why does he ask that? Because this was a current and very divisive argument raging in Judaism at the time. Who is my neighbour? Does that refer to Jews only? My fellow Jews? Or does it mean all human beings? To the pharisees, all who were non-Jews, and all Jews who disagreed with them or who were non-observant, all these people were considered contaminated, unclean. That’s why the pharisees would have nothing to do with them. They shunned them, in fact. Samaritans were absolutely and always placed in this group to be despised. So when the lawyer switches gears and brings up the question of “who is my neighbour?’, he is not-at-all-subtly trying to draw Jesus into this fight. He figures no matter how Jesus answers, He will offend a great many Jews who will disagree with Him. This will result in Jesus losing a big chunk of His popularity. Mission accomplished. But what happened? Jesus told a parable, a parable about a “good Samaritan.” And what was even more surprising, he identified that “Good Samaritan” as Himself! Why do I say that? The holy fathers say it. Jesus presents the Samaritan as someone who is despised, rejected, someone to be shunned, yet nevertheless, it is He Who comes and saves the man from the beatings and near death brought by the thieves (meaning the demons); it is He Who brings healing to broken humanity by means of cleansing  (baptism), oil (chrismation) and wine (the Holy Eucharist). The priest and the Levite (and you could turf in scribes, pharisees, and lawyers) who pass by, what do they represent? St Augustine says the following: “The priest and the Levite who saw him and passed by, signify the priesthood and ministry of the Old Testament which could profit nothing for salvation. The word ‘Samaritan’ means ‘Guardian,’ and therefore the Lord Himself is signified by this name...The beast is the flesh in which He deigned to come to us. The being set upon the beast is belief in the incarnation of Christ. The inn is the Church, where travelers returning to their heavenly country are refreshed during their pilgrimage.”
My dear friends! There are many messages for us, many truths to learn and honour, in today’s Gospel.
First, don’t ever let your own pride, your own arrogance, your own agendas get in your way of clearly hearing the word of God, understanding the word of God, embracing the word of God, and acting on the word of God. “Do this, and you will live” says the Lord. We only ever have to listen to Christ, and do what Christ says, and it is sufficient for us. Second, all human beings are our neighbors. The man who fell among thieves, he represents Adam, and Adam is the father and common ancestor of all of us.
We are all neighbors, and we are required to love all.
May Christ, our Saviour, and the Good Samaritan to our souls, grant us the grace to love Him and to keep His commandments always and forever. Amen.