The Gospel reading for the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Luke 10:25-37 Year C) is the parable of ‘The Good Samaritan’. I suppose the first time I ever heard Jesus’ parable I was just a child. At the time, and I can’t really say how much it resonated with a youngster like me maybe because it was one of many parables I had heard.
Sometimes, society will reference this parable as a story of a doer of good deeds. With age and changing perspective, this parable (as well as countless others) has come to mean a great deal more to me than just a story Jesus was telling or a societal reference. As with many of the parables of Jesus, the simple components and characters are used to communicate the Father’s plan for our relationship to Him and our relationship with each other.
As the Gospel reading (Luke 10:25-37) begins, Jesus is immediately tested by an expert of Mosaic law on what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus, knowing that the lawyer already knew the answer, poses the question back to him. The lawyer then indicates that we are to love God and neighbor with all the strength of our being. Jesus tells the lawyer if he does so, he will live. What the lawyer wants to know is where exactly we can draw the line as he asks, “Who is my neighbor?”
Jesus then begins a parable where a man is on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho and is robbed, beaten and left for dead. First a priest and later a Levite come across the man, but walk away as they knew full well that touching the man would make them ritually unclean. They also probably anticipated it may have been a trap wherein they would be jumped, too. The risk was too great. Suddenly, a Samaritan, of all people (Jews and Samaritans were not on good terms) stops to help. In his compassion, this Samaritan in the parable reveals the boundless mercy of God. This is the same God who came to us when we were fallen in sin and half-dead and unable to pick ourselves up.
Jesus is the image of the invisible God (Col 1:15-20). It is in Him that the very love of God has come near to mankind. By bearing His neighbors’ anguishes in His own body (by the blood of his cross), being stripped, beaten and left for dead – He saved us from the very chains of sin and reconciled all of us to God and to each other. Just like the Samaritan, He pays the price for us to be cared for, heals our wounds (sins), pours out oil and wine for healing through the sacraments and entrusts our care to His Church until His return.
Our response? God’s love has no bounds and ours cannot either. We need to love each other as we have been loved and do for others what He has done for humanity – reconciling all things in His Body, the Church. The opportunities to do so can be found most every day and come in varying forms. As an adult, I now am able to draw the riches from this parable and realize that we cannot afford to look away as the priest and Levite did. As this passage concludes, Jesus calls each one of us today to carry out this love as he commands, “Go and do likewise.”
~ Frank DeSalvatore