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Select Homily
July, 14 2019

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)

Rev. Jeffrey Kemper

Who exactly is the good Samaritan?

Who exactly is the man lying in the dust?

 

You might be thinking,

“It’s a parable, dummy. 

It doesn’t matter who the victim or the Samaritan is.

It’s the lesson that counts.”

 

You are right; this is a parable.

But it maybe by asking asking the question, “who?”

we can find a deeper lesson.

 

Let’s look at the victim traveler.

The road to Jericho was a very dangerous, desert road;

lots of caves and hiding places for robbers,

miles of isolation from the safety of the law.

The wise do not travel this road alone.

They travel in groups, for there is strength in numbers.

This traveler must either be on a most urgent journey

or he is just foolhardy to be traveling alone.

 

In a way, the traveler is like many of us,

traveling through life on dangerous roads

sometimes trying to accomplish what is urgent in life,

sometimes foolishly taking chances with things

that can be dangerous,

not just to the body, but to the soul.

From another perspective,

the victim is every human being,

robbed of grace by the power of the Evil One,

battered and in lying the dust by the folly of sin.

 

Who is the man stripped of dignity and drained of life?

He is every man and woman born

after the sin of Adam and Eve.

 

Now, let’s look at the good Samaritan.

He must either be a fool,

or he must have urgent business

to be traveling alone.


He is a person of profound compassion,

a man willing to take a risk

of falling victim to the same thieves

as he leaves the road

to investigate the wounded man.

He is one who lifts up the victim,

gives him shelter,

anoints him with healing balm of oil and wine,

and pays the entire cost

for the man to be healed, to be raised up.

 

Who exactly is the Good Samaritan?

It is God become human,

Jesus Christ our Lord,

who, when we were enemies of God

by virtue of sin,

came and traveled the road of human life

with all its dangers and suffering,

with the urgent intent of

lifting us up, healing us, and restoring our dignity.

 

When Jesus ends the story

by telling the scribe

to “Go and do likewise”

he wasn’t just telling him to be nice to his enemy.

He was telling him to act like God.

 

That is something for us to think about.

Do we simply see our responsibility to the world

as occasionally doing good

when we stumble upon someone in dire need?

Or do we see our responsibility

as those conformed to the image of Christ

in the waters of the font

to set out to find those who are wounded,

robbed of justice and dignity,

rendered spiritually stripped,

and left for dead by the rest of the world?

 

What priority do we give to working

to assure that we ourselves, society,

businesses, and government

act with justice and integrity

towards those who are powerless

within our borders and outside of them?

Are will willing work to rouse a sense of justice and grace

in ourselves and other individuals?

Do we read or listen to the news

to find out what is happening in the world?

Do we take pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard)

to advocate justice and protest injustice

with governments or industries

when it is needed?

 

What value do we give

to spending our wealth

for the sake of the downtrodden, the powerless,

and those society leaves for dead?

Is such spending a true priority

or an afterthought once our own wants are met?

 

Parables are dangerous things.

They seem like simple stories

with simple points.

But when you think about their message,

they can radically change our view of life.

The Samaritan –– God.

The victim –– us.

The command –– Go and do likewise:

Love your neighbor as God loves you.

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