Steve had been through a lot this past year, both personally and in his family. Things weren’t in a great place with his wife Susan. Their arguments over his drinking had become more and more frequent. But, he finally had to admit that she was right. Of course, that only came after the tragic car accident where he had nearly caused another person to lose their life. He was currently suffering the legal and criminal consequences of driving under the influence. He still wasn’t sure how all of that was going to play out. And now his wife was threatening to leave him. The weaknesses and sinfulness of his life was starting to overwhelm him.
So, when he heard the gospel at Mass this past Sunday, about the Good Samaritan, he actually listened to it in a different way. All of a sudden it dawned on him, “I’m that man who fell victim to robbers as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho! That’s me! My sins and my weaknesses have beaten me down and I am in need of help. And whose the one who brings help, Jesus the Good Samaritan.” Steve began to quietly to pray: “Jesus, I need your help, please help me.”
So, I offer you today a suggestion. Let’s look at this parable more so from the perspective of the injured man and the one who enters the scene to help him.
There’s a Carmelite priest, Father Gabriel of Saint Mary Magdalen, who died in the early fifties, who offered this insight about the Good Samaritan parable:
That unfortunate man represents each one of us. We too have encountered robbers on our way. The world, the devil, and our passions have stripped and wounded us. Who can say that he does not have in his own soul some wound, more or less deep, left by temptation or sin? But, on our route, there was also a Good Samaritan, rather the Good Samaritan par excellence, Jesus, who, moved by compassion for our state, brought us help.
Putting the parable in this light sure does make it personal, don’t you think? Life can sometimes beat us up and we can feel overwhelmed. And what Christ wants to do is to bind up our wounds, whatever they happen to be and bring us to a safe place. Looking at this story this way, we see The whole plan of redemption—the Cross and the Resurrection. It is important to encounter Jesus, the Healer, and to allow ourselves to be healed.
When I share with you this perspective on the parable of the Good Samaritan, I don’t mean to discount the Ned for us to also reach out in compassion and healing toward others, but I often think that we are less likely to do this until we too have experience the saving power of Christ in our own lives. So, in the end, there’s grace in being both the victim and the healer. This is actually what Christ became for us! But it all starts, hopefully for us, when we see how Christ wants to rescue us—to heal us and forgive us.
Nevertheless, this perspective offered by Father Gabriel led me to another, Brother Lawerence. He wrote this in a letter to a spiritual director back in the 17th century:
I consider myself as the most miserable of all human beings, covered with sores, foul, and guilty of all sorts of crimes committed against my King; moved by sincere remorse I confess all my sins to him….Far from chastising me, this King, full of goodness and mercy, lovingly embraces me, seats me at his table, waits on me himself, gives me the keys to his treasures, and treats me in all things as his favorite…
Today, as we are asked to reflect on the very familiar parable of the Good Samaritan, encounter Christ, the Good Samaritan, healing us and keeping us safe.