Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Good Samaritan and Our Woundedness

Homily from the 15th Sunday of Ordinary Time - Year C

One of my favorite methods of prayer is to read a passage from Sacred Scripture and imagine myself as a character in the passage. St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, is famous for promoting this type of prayer. You can do it with any passage of Scripture. Imagine yourself as one of the shepherds at the birth of Jesus, or Peter walking across the water to meet the Lord, or as Simon of Cyrene helping Christ to carry his cross up to Calvary.

The parables are especially powerful when you imagine yourself in the story. This is what Jesus is trying to get the scholar of the law to do. The scholar wants to know who he must be "neighborly" to; so Jesus tells him a parable to get him to identify with the Good Samaritan.

I think most of us identify with the Good Samaritan. We're doers. We like to fix things. We like to do good for our neighbor. So, its natural for us to emulate the Good Samaritan.

But there's another character in the story; and perhaps Jesus is challenging us to identify with him too.

Imagine, for a moment, that you are the man who fell victim to robbers. He is attacked, robbed, stripped and beaten. He is left half-dead. Then he is ignored and abandoned by the passers-by. Who hasn't, at one time or another, felt like this man?

As we travel down our proverbial roads from Jerusalem to Jericho, we fall victim to robbers; one in particular: the Evil One, who robs us of our innocence, who strips us of our God-given human dignity, and wants to leave us lying half-dead on the side of the road.

All of us have been wounded by sin. The problem is, many of us do not want to admit it. If we were the victim in the parable, many of us would drag ourselves off the side of the road and hide in the bushes. Because we don't want anyone to see our wounds. We don't want anyone to know our sins.

The reason why we hide our sins is because as the Evil One is robbing us, stripping us, beating us and leaving us half-dead on the side of the road, he is whispering a lie into our ears. He deceitfully says, "How could you do such a thing? Your Father doesn't want to have anything to do with you. Don't you dare let Him see you like this."

These words are lies.

We must remember that there is another character in the parable: the Good Samaritan, who for us, is Jesus.

The Good Samaritan is moved with compassion at the sight of the victim and approaches him. Jesus is moved with compassion at the sight of our woundedness. The word "compassion" literally means "to suffer with." Jesus approaches us and suffers with us.

The Good Samaritan pours oil and wine on the victim's wounds. Jesus pours his mercy and forgiveness on ours.

The Good Samaritan lifts the victim onto his own animal. Jesus lifts us onto his own back as he carries our sins upon his Cross up to Calvary.

The Good Samaritan takes the victim to the inn to receive the care he needs. Jesus brings us to this "inn", the Church, to receive the care we need.

The Good Samaritan tells the innkeeper to take care of the victim. Jesus tells me, your priest, your "innkeeper", to do the same for you.

The Good Samaritan pays two silver coins to cover the expenses of the victim. Jesus has paid the ultimate price of his own life for our salvation and spares no expense on our behalf.

The Good Samaritan tells the innkeeper that if more money is needed for the victim's care, he will repay him when he comes back to visit. Jesus returns to us again and again in the Eucharist.

So, the question is... will we let Jesus heal our wounds? Jesus knows and sees our wounds better than we know them ourselves. And he wants to heal every single one of our wounds... every single one. We only have to let him. And there is no wound - no wound - too deep or too dirty that Jesus cannot penetrate and heal.

Come to the inn. The door is the confessional. And I promise you that I will drop everything I am doing in order to hear your confession. The only time I can't is between the two signs of the cross that begin and end the Mass. I won't be hearing your confessions during Mass, much to your relief I'm sure!

And don't let the notion that if you've been away from the Sacrament of Confession for a long time, or don't remember how to make a good confession that you are not worthy to return. That is the Evil One whispering his lies again. It's his easiest trick in the book. It's also his lamest and the easiest to defeat. You know why? Because the priest is there to help you. I will help you make an examination of conscience. If you don't remember the Act of Contrition, don't worry, we've got it written down for you.

Two weeks ago, I promised the Bishop and Jesus that I would pour the Lord's mercy and forgiveness upon you. And in accepting this responsibility, I became your innkeeper. Come to the inn. Let Jesus heal your wounds. Come to confession.


  1. Beautiful homily!!! So wonderful to be so warmly beckoned to the Sacrament of Reconciliation!!! Thank you so much Father, for sharing your insights, and for being a good innkeeper to the wounded (all of us!) whom the Lord has entrusted to your care. May Our Blessed Mother intercede for you in all of your necessities, always!!!

  2. Only one thing to say: Praise God!