Jul 13, 2019

Christ the Samaritan

The individual on the journey is you and me. We have left Jerusalem. In other words, we are far from where God lives. In this way of retelling the parable (allow me to use the second person to better illustrate the reflection), the road takes you to Jericho, a symbolic place of being far from heaven. On this lonely road hostile forces easily prey upon and overpower you, robbing you of your dignity and wealth. You might as well be dead. The Jewish priest and Levite represent the Old Testament way of doing things, but in itself it has no power to bring us to our feet.

The Good Samaritan is Christ himself who leaves the heavenly Jerusalem and travels the road searching us out. We are far from home. Christ sees our wounds, our sins. He is not repulsed by them, regardless of how deep the wound is in our soul. Instead, he reaches out and touches them, bandages them with the sacraments of healing, which are confession and the anointing of the sick.

Oil poured upon wounds can comfort, as Christ’s presence ultimately does. But Christ, the Good Samaritan, also pours wine over the wounds. That can hurt and even sting for a while as does Christ’s words when spoken in judgment even to a Christian, so as to draw out into the open a poisonous infection which if left untreated can kill even the soul itself.

Christ then reaches down to lift you up, to carry you to a safe place. The refuge of the inn, we should look upon as the Church and the innkeeper is the bishop or pastor. In other words, within the field hospital of Christ’s Church the wounded can be brought to full health, always under the watchful eye of the bishop or the pastor who, as a successor to the apostles, has received treasures from Christ (the two silver coins) and the responsibility to spend it towards salvation. (cf. John 21:15, “Christ’s words to Peter, “Feed my lambs”) The Samaritan tells the innkeeper that he will return. Christ has told us that he too will return and we must be ready to give a full account of the gifts he has given us.

Too often we do not realize that we are on a dangerous road that can take us further and further away from God, a road that can lead to hell. Weakened in body and wounded in soul by sins along the way, it is sometimes good fortune to collapse in the middle of the road rather than arriving at the point of no return.

Christ’s Church is identified, like the Good Samaritan’s inn, as a unique place where God’s mercy, through the sacrament of reconciliation, is celebrated and full recovery is sought. Within its walls, the innkeeper will also provide, when the traveler is strong enough, a meal – this Holy Eucharist, Christ’s resurrected Body and Blood, the divine remedy for the tired body and wounded soul, the strength we need to continue the journey, this time not down hill but on to the road that leads us up hill towards the heavenly city.

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