Sermons

Summary: I can’t help but think it was Mother Teresa’s having to suffer the loss of her father, who was murdered when she was a child, that directed her to a life of mercy.

Jesus is asked 183 questions of which he only answers 3. The expert asked a question wanting to test Jesus and he got an answer.

But in the story about the Good Samaritan, Jesus is testing him—and us. The man beaten and robbed was going from Jerusalem to Jericho. So were the priest and Levite, which implies that all of them had just left from worshipping in the temple. If they were going towards Jerusalem, they could have claimed that their duties to God were more important than their duties to man. Can’t be late for Church! They could claim that they loved the Lord, with all their heart, being, strength, and mind, but not the second: Love your neighbor as yourself.

To be precise, Jesus himself asks 307 questions. The Good Samaritan story can prompt us to ask ourselves:

1.Do I have the heart of Christ?

Neuroscientists from the Paris Brain Institute hooked up volunteers to an electrocardiogram machine and measured their heartbeats as they listened to a story being read aloud. And they found that as volunteers listened to the story, their heartbeats eventually synched up with the heartbeats of the others who were listening to the same story.

[Tessa Koumoundouros, ScienceAlert, 9/15/2021].

I mention this because Our Lord wants to synchronize our heartbeats with the Sacred Heart of Jesus. To be more in sync with God’s heart.

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. Wool garments were more common than linen, so the man was likely wearing nice linen clothes.

When Jesus said “a Samaritan” was moved by compassion, absolute silence would have fallen upon the audience. A shocker ending. Samaritans were despised by Jews. There is an ingroup/outgroup dynamic that Jesus deliberately plays on by picking a hero whom everyone would reject. Today, that shocker ending would be an undocumented Hispanic showing compassion to a U.S. citizen, or a Muslim showing compassion to a Jew or vice a versa.

Fr. Emmerich Vogt, O.P. shares his insight into why the Good Samaritan acted like a good neighbor, while Father also shares about himself--

A group of high school students put on a skit about the parable of the Good Samaritan. They had no costumes as such; the characters simply wore a paper bag over their heads with eyes, mouth and nose cut out.

As the story goes, the man who shows mercy to the injured man who happens to be an enemy—i.e., the Samaritan.

As the skit was portrayed by the high school students, the traveler who was beaten was lying on the ground with his bag having been torn to pieces. The Samaritan gently picked up those pieces, and as he turned to the congregation, we could see that the Samaritan once had had his bag torn apart. But it was now pieced back together. It was clear then why the Samaritan had compassion on the beaten traveler and stopped to help him.

Suffering can call us out of superficiality into a life of mercy which, St. Thomas Aquinas says, is to have a pain in our heart over the pain of another and to take pains to relieve their pain. This is what God did for us in becoming man and suffering His passion and death on the Cross to free us from sin and death, as the figure of the Good Samaritan.

I can’t help but think it was Mother Teresa’s having to suffer the loss of her father, who was murdered when she was a child, that directed her to a life of mercy. And it was a recovering alcoholic that directed me to learn the wisdom of the 12 steps. I would often tell her, “Antoinette, I’m so glad you’re an alcoholic in recovery!” Her suffering from alcoholism and the consequent embracing of the 12 steps changed my whole life and priestly ministry.” [The Twelve Step Review, Fr. Emmerich Vogt, O.P, Summer 2018].

Having the heart of Christ also means spending our money to do good.

The Samaritan pulls out of his own pocket two denarii, or about two days’ wages, which will pay for about two weeks at the inn. Quote by Margaret Thatcher: “No-one would remember the Good Samaritan if he'd only had good intentions; he had money as well.”

Lastly, having the Heart of Christ Jesus as a Christian is not to define who is in and who is out of the church but rather to give us identity as God’s covenant people. The primary message of the parable is not that all people are our neighbor, though this is implied, but rather to define what it means to be a member of Christ’s Church. Not focusing primarily about who God’s people are, but how to be God’s people.

Amen.

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