The Good Samaritan
Father Hanly’s homily for 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C, is on the Good Samaritan.
Readings for Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
- First Reading: Deuteronomy 30:10-14
- Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 69:14, 17, 30-31, 33-34, 36, 37
- Second Reading: Colossians 1:15-20
- Gospel: Luke 10:25-37
The long journey is over. Jesus and his disciples have finally arrived in Jerusalem, and Jesus is preaching in the Temple, his Father’s house.
He draws a large crowd. Many admirers, but also many enemies waiting to trap him in speech, bent on arresting him and putting him on trial for blasphemy, then having him crucified.
Suddenly, a young lawyer, a scholar well versed in the Law of Moses, stands up to test him. Very politely calling him “Rabbi, Teacher,” but none the less still intent on catching him off guard, tripping him up in speech, exposing him as a fraud in front of the crowd:
“Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus does not answer the question, but in turn questions the scholar:
is written in the law?
How do you read it?”
And the scholar quickly gives the answer that every Jewish school child knows by heart:
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.”
Jesus, smiling, says to the scholar:
have answered correctly;
do this and you will live.”
One might ask what does Jesus mean? “Do this and you shall live.” Are we not all alive?
And the answer is no. Because, as the scholar himself has just said, to love and be loved by God is to be alive, not just in the body but in the spirit, and to love your neighbor as yourself, this is the whole law and the prophets.
And so the scholar again answers his own question. Feeling sheepish, he wants to justify himself before the crowd and before Jesus, so he adds another question:
“And who is my neighbor?”
Again, Jesus is silent. And, once again, he does not answer the scholar’s question.
But what he does instead is tell a story. And I shall read you now the story handed down by Jesus to the people of Jerusalem on that special day, and ultimately it reached the whole world. Some say “The Good Samaritan” is the greatest story ever told.
“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.”
Mercy – this is a word used only by God. Mercy really means forgiveness. It means kindness. It means compassion. It means mercy, hesed, like God who loves and loves and never refuses forgiveness, kindness, compassion or mercy.
Now, I’d like to put a finish to this little homily, and it goes like this — you’re supposed to think about this now in your own heart – it goes like this:
“Who is the Good Samaritan?
A human being who reaches out to help those in need.
And why does this man reach out to help them?
Because they are in need.
These are people who care. They care because their hearts will not allow them to do otherwise.
To Jesus there is no other form of love worthy of God.
We are to love with the Samaritan’s love. We are to love with Jesus’ love. We are to love with his Father’s love.
For in God’s all-seeing eyes, the wounded man left bleeding and helpless by the roadside is the crucified Christ, His only Son.”