15th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Fr. Francis)

by | Jul 20, 2019

Last Sunday we heard about the mission of the seventy-two who were sent out by the Lord to proclaim the kingdom of God. This week, it is the scholar of the law who comes to Jesus and asks about eternal life.

Most of us are so familiar with the parable of the Good Samaritan that we can easily hear it without really listening to it. It’s easy to do that sometimes with passages of Scripture we know so well. The story is simple. A man who is going from Jerusalem to Jericho is robbed, beaten, and nearly killed. It was a dangerous road. A priest and a Levite walk past the injured man, and a Samaritan stops to care for him. The Samaritan treats the wounds of the injured man with wine, oil, and bandages. The Samaritan takes him to an inn, pays for his care, and promises to pay for any additional needs when he returns. The Samaritan demonstrates what it means to be a neighbor.

We want to be good neighbors. The law of God invites us to love God and love our neighbor. That is not a mysterious commandment. It is not something hidden from our view. This commandment is near to us, in our mouths and in our hearts. We know it and we can follow it.

The difference between the Samaritan and the priest and the Levite was more than just their actions. We do not know why the priest and the Levite did not stop to help the injured man. We do know why the Samaritan stopped to help the injured man: he was moved with compassion. From the compassion that he felt for this unknown injured man on the side of the road, the Samaritan carried out the love of neighbor.

We want to be compassionate neighbors. The word compassion means to suffer with. To be compassionate means that we are willing to suffer with those who are suffering. The Samaritan was willing to suffer and willing to sacrifice for the injured man. His act of charity cost him. It cost him wine, oil, and bandages made of cloth. It cost him comfort on the journey because he gave the injured man his own place on the animal he was riding. It cost him the two silver coins that he gave to the innkeeper, and whatever he would pay on his return. And it cost him the most precious gift that we can give to another: it cost him time. The Samaritan was willing to suffer with the suffering. That is what it means to be a neighbor.

And that is part of what it means to be a follower of the Lord Jesus. We suffer with the suffering. In union with Christ who suffered for us, we suffer with the poor, the injured, the sick, the rejected, and the dying. We suffer with those who have been cast to the side of the road in our society: the unborn, the immigrant, the elderly, the mentally ill, and the disabled. Each of us was marked with the sign of Christ’s glorious sufferings in our baptism. Every vocation is marked with the blessing of Christ’s holy cross. Mothers suffer with and for their children. Fathers suffering with and for their families. Teachers suffer with and for their students. Husbands suffer for their wives, and wives suffer for their husbands. Priests suffer with and for their people, and the holy people of God suffer with and for their priests. We are the neighbors, and we are the people Christ calls us to be when we are willing to suffer with those who suffer.

But we were not the first to suffer. We suffer in union with Christ on the cross. For in truth, we are not the Good Samaritan in the parable. We are the injured man. And Christ our Savior traveling to the road to the heavenly city of Jerusalem looked was moved with compassion for each of us. Jesus approached us while we were still sinners. He bathed us in the wine of his blood and anointed us with the oil of gladness. He carried us in his own body and placed us in the inn which is his holy Church. He left the two precious coins of his Word and his Sacraments until his return in glory.

And now, at the altar, we meet him. Our compassionate Savior meets us in our suffering and gives us eyes to recognize his presence and eyes to recognize those who are suffering. Here we are strengthened to suffer with Christ and for Christ who willing and lovingly and compassionately suffered for us.


Fr. A. Francis HGN