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The Good Samaritan Revealed
Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test Jesus 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.”
Opening Prayer: Lord, I often wonder if I will inherit eternal life. I try hard to please you but so often believe I fail to live up to your expectations of me. Help me, Lord, to remember your will is your Divine Mercy.
- Testing Jesus: There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test Jesus and said, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Even though this scholar asked in order to test Jesus and justify himself, Our Lord used this opportunity to affirm him and to teach him how to move beyond the law. We should never hesitate to ask the Holy Spirit in prayer for confirmation or clarification about what we believe. God will work through our efforts to know the faith by studying Scripture and teachings of the Church. He will affirm what we understand and explain what we do not. He may speak in the moment with sudden enlightenment, or through others we meet during our day. He may draw our attention to certain writings, or lead us into discussion with knowledgeable friends and colleagues. We need only be open to the workings of the Holy Spirit.
- Law of Eternal Life: When Jesus answered the Jewish scholar’s question on eternal life with another question, “What is written in the law?” the scholar responded, “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.” As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are also bound by this law to love God and neighbor, for our Lord tells us, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have not come to abolish but to fulfill (Matthew 5:17).” We have a clear advantage over the scholar for as difficult as it is to love God and neighbor as we are called to do, we are able to do so through Jesus. The Jewish people were given the law by God through Moses but Moses had no more power than they did to accomplish it. Jesus both commands this law and accomplishes it in us for he is truly God and truly man.
- Good Samaritan Revealed: In his book, Secrets from Heaven, Father Sebastian Walshe offers a wonderful contemplation on Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan. The man who fell upon robbers is Adam, who is stripped by the devil of charity and justice and left wounded by original sin and its consequences. He is half-dead because the soul remains immortal but now the body is subject to death. The priest and Levite who walk by him are the sacrifices of the old covenant and the law of Moses which cannot heal man’s fallen state. Christ is the Samaritan, a foreigner whose “Kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36) and who out of pity for the plight of man came into human nature when “the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). The oil and wine he pours on the man is mercy and justice. The beast the Samaritan mounts the man on is Jesus’ human nature. The inn to which the man is brought is the Church, a “place of safety and healing in this life while we await the Lord’s return,” and the innkeeper’s care into which he places the man is St. Peter and the Apostles. According to Pope Francis, “…The Lord comes to meet each one of us: he does not ignore us, he knows our sorrows; he knows how much we need help and consolation. He comes close to us and never abandons us. Each one of us should ask himself the question and answer in his heart: ‘Do I believe this? Do I believe that the Lord has compassion for me, just as I am, a sinner, with so many problems and so many things?’ Think of this and the answer is: ‘Yes!’ But each one must look into his heart to see if he has faith in this compassion of God, of the good God who comes close, who heals us, who caresses us. And if we refuse him, he waits: he is patient and is always at our side.”
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, you came to heal me. You died for me. You gave me the gift of your Church so I can continue to be healed and so I can live with you forever in eternity. You did not just do this for me. You did this for every person. I will receive your mercy and I will give your mercy to others. Thank you, Jesus.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will spend my time in prayer contemplating your abundant mercy through the gift of your Son, Jesus, who gave us the Church.
For Further Reflection: Secrets from Heaven, Hidden Treasures of Faith in the Parables and Conversations of Jesus, by Father Sebastian Walshe, O. Praem.
Nan Balfour is an events coordinator for Pilgrim Center of Hope, a Catholic Evangelization Ministry that answers Christ’s call by guiding people to encounter him so as to live in hope as pilgrims in daily life. She is also a mother, writer, and speaker on Catholic topics.
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