Reflection on Scripture Fifteenth Sunday Gospel C Do likewise

By 9:51 AM

 Fifteenth Sunday Gospel C

There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test him and said, "Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

The key phrase  here is “to test him”.  Was he really interested in the truth? It is Jesus who in turn will test him. 

 Jesus said to him, "What is written in the law?  How do you read it?"  He said in reply, "You 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."

As a scholar of the law he knew the answer before he asked the question. 

He replied to him, "You have answered correctly; do this and you will live." 

Jesus gives him the real answer to his question. Knowing the truth is not enough. One must act on the truth.

But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" 

He continues to test Jesus. But his understanding of the scope of the command of God is limited. Jesus stretches his tent pegs. Jesus says your neighbor includes the one you most despise.

Jesus replied, "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. 

The presumption is that this person is a fellow Jew and to the priest and Levite he is dead. 

The priest and the Levite observed the ritual laws of purification, which forbade them to touch the corpses of anyone other than family members. They were probably on the way back from the Temple and did not want to become ritually unclean.

Who is that person we try to avoid at all means? 

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. 

Jesus specifically chooses to use a Samaritan in his story because of the animosity between Jews and Samaritans. Neither would have anything to do with the other. 

Yet this Samaritan risks his life for his “enemy”.  He is moved with compassion. He goes out of his way to minister to the man.

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."

The Fathers of the Church saw this parable as an allegory. It signifies “Christ’s restoration of mankind. Adam is the man attacked by Satan and his legions; he is stripped of his immortality and left dead in sin. The priest and the Levite represent the Old Covenant and its inability to restore man to new life. Jesus comes as the Good Samaritan to rescue man from death and brings him to the inn of the Church for refreshment and healing through the sacrament.”

In this parable Jesus teaches how a true disciple of his should act towards others. 

Jesus compares the failure of the ministers of God with the unselfishness of the hated Samaritan. 

The Samaritan does not have the scribe’s learning. He does not have the concern for security and fear of ritual uncleanness.  He had spontaneous love. 

As God has been merciful to us, so we are called to merciful to others, even the least.

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