Posted by: fvbcdm | October 3, 2011

Feast of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin (3 Oct 2011)

I was struck this morning at Mass by the reading of Our Lord’s parable of the Good Samaritan. Let’s think about that a little bit today. To begin with, the Samaritans were not considered to be good at all, but rather “the bad guys.”  They were a group of schismatic Jews who lived in Samaria, between Judea in the south of the Holy Land and Israel in the north.  They had renounced the Jewish religious practices which centered upon the temple in Jerusalem, and begun to worship on Mount Gerizim just outside the present city of Nablus.  So the idea of a “good Samaritan” would have been for the hearers of Jesus a contradiction in terms.  But because we don’t know that history, we see nothing strange about the concept of a “good Samaritan.”
We go on to listen carefully to Our Lord’s words in the parable.  A man was going along the very sinuous road that goes from Jerusalem in the hills down to Jericho, at the level of the Dead Sea.  In that relatively short distance, one loses about four thousand feet in altitude and therefore the road cannot be straight, but must be a zig-zag route.  In the hairpin curves, robbers can and did hide to prey upon travelers.  So now, in Jesus’s story, robbers attack a traveler, whom they strip of all his possessions, beat him, and leave him half dead by the roadside.  Now a priest goes by.  The priests were supposed to be the “good guys” in contrast with the no-good Samaritans.  But the priest passes the wounded man—“on the opposite side of the road” as Our Lord points out.  The priest doesn’t want to get involved, and doesn’t wish to help the man in distress.  Then a levite comes along, and also passes the wounded man “on the opposite side of the road.” The levites were a religious group something like our deacons today.  Charity and kindness to others were expected of them as of the priests, but this levite showed no charity or mercy at all.
Then comes a Samaritan. We can almost read the thoughts of Jesus’s listeners. If the priest and levite did nothing to help the wounded man, what would the Samaritan do?  No doubt something even worse!  Maybe steal his shoes if the robbers hadn’t already taken them.  But no; the Samaritan is “moved with compassion.”  He stops, takes a flask of olive oil and another of wine from his saddle bags or carrying case, pours some of each into the man’s wounds by way of medication, hoists the man onto his own beast (a donkey or a camel), takes him to an inn and cares for him.  The next day, he gives the innkeeper two silver coins—quite a bit of money—and tells him to do for the wounded man whatever was needed, and if it cost more than those two silver pieces, the Samaritan would repay him on his return.  And all this for a total stranger!
With all our improvements in emergency care, we very rarely have an opportunity to help someone that directly.  But we do have the obligation, and the opportunities, to help others in different ways.  If we think about it, we can discover ways of helping, encouraging, counseling, setting good example, contributing to, befriending, and never giving bad example to others.  How does Our Lord see us? As wounded and in need of help? As a priest or levite who passes by a wounded person on the opposite of the road? Or as a “good Samaritan” who goes out of our way to be of help and service to anyone who needs it? Think about that. Thank you for seeking God’s truth.  God bless you.  Father Victor Brown, O.P.



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