Sunday, July 15, 2007

Homily: 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Deuteronomy 30:10-14
Psalms 69:14, 17, 30-31, 33-34, 36, 37
Colossians 1:15-20
Luke 10:25-37

Praised be Jesus Christ now and forever! Amen.

“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.”
~ Gospel of the Day

1. In today’s gospel reading we encounter the familiar figure of the good Samaritan; the generous man who stops to help his fellow man who has been robbed, severely beaten, stripped of his clothing, and left on the roadside for dead. But have you ever stopped to wonder just who this Good Samaritan is? Even though this may be a parable, or story, there most certainly must be someone that Jesus had in mind when he told this story.

2. So who is it that he had in mind? It seems to me that most of us would answer that he had us in mind. He wanted us to see ourselves as the good Samaritan who should, and hopefully would, stop and help anyone who is in need, and surely that is true. He is clearly challenging us to be good Samaritans, but today I would like to examine this parable in another light, from a little different angle. I would like to examine this parable in a way that the Ancient Fathers of the Church looked at it: from the perspective that we, us, you and me, are not the Samaritan, but rather we are the man robbed, beaten, stripped, and left for dead, and Jesus Himself is the Good Samaritan who comes to our rescue.

3. My brothers and sisters, what a powerful and moving image of our Savior is this image of the Good Samaritan. All of us know the experience of being robbed of God’s grace and our peace of mind, stripped of our human dignity, and left for dead by sin.

4. Sin, especially mortal sin, robs us of God’s grace and our peace of mind, mortally wounds our soul, and strips away our dignity. Often I hear people comment that the Church’s teaching on mortal sin has changed. I hear things like “Oh Father, the Second Vatican Council did away with all that Mortal Sin stuff,” but that is not the case. The Catechism of the Catholic Church reiterates the constant teaching of the Church when it says that “Mortal sin destroys charity in the heart of man by a grave violation of God's law; it turns man away from God, who is his ultimate end and his beatitude, by preferring an inferior good to him. (CCC 1855)” My friends, mortal sin robs us of sharing in God’s life, it robs us of grace, and because of that it robs us of our peace of mind, it makes us worry, it makes us feel alone and abandoned, and causes us to fear that we may never be rescued and saved.

4. Sin strips us of our dignity and our identity as sons and daughters of God. It is no coincidence that in telling this story Jesus mentioned that the victim of the robbers was stripped. Clothing, in ancient times, was as sign of position, ethnic background, religious identity and dignity. Ones clothing told others who and what you were. At our Baptism each one of us was given a white garment, a sign that in Baptism we have taken on a new identity and been raised to the dignity of God’s children. Sin robs us of this identity and dignity. Sin lowers us, strips us of the identity and dignity of being sons and daughters of God.

5. Satan, the tempter who leads us to sin, wants nothing more than to see us dead in a ditch. He just loves to use us for his own evil purposes and then leave us for dead, just as the robbers left the man from the gospel on the side of the road to die a lonely and pitiful death. Satan’s plan, however, is foiled by Jesus, who as the Good Samaritan comes along, and unlike other people, stops to help.

6. The gospel says that the Samaritan “was moved with compassion at the sight” and then “approached the victim.” When we are crippled by sin, when we are beaten down by guilt and discouragement, when our ego is bruised by our own falls, when we are so wounded that we cannot go to Jesus to be healed on our own, He sees us and is moved with compassion at the sight of us so beaten down by sin, an He approaches us. He reaches out to us and brings us the healing and strength we so desperately need.

7. The Samaritan then “poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them.” When we come to Him Jesus will apply to our wounds the medicine needed, the remedy which will help us to overcome the sins which wound our hearts, and then he will bandage them to help protect us from future wounds. This is exactly what happens in the Sacrament of Penance. We come before the Lord wounded by sin, and through the ministry of the priest, He cleans the wound, He washes it, He applies the medicine needed, and then strengthens us against future falls by binding our wounds.

8. My dear parish family, we need a good Samaritan, we need Jesus, especially in the Sacrament of Penance, in confession. We need to experience His compassion and mercy. We need the remedy for our wounded souls that only He can give in the Sacrament of Penance. So please, take advantage of this great gift, come frequently to confession and allow the Lord to pick us up from the side of the road and heal our wounds.

9. In order to help all of us to do this I am going to add some more confession times. In addition to offering the Sacrament of Penance on Saturdays at 3:15, I will also be in the confessional at 9:45 on Sunday mornings and one half hour before daily Masses. And of course I am more than willing to make an appointment to celebrate this Sacrament if those times are inconvenient for anyone.

10. Our Lord loves us and wants us to be happy with Him forever in heaven, so let us work with Him, the Good Samaritan, to achieve that end by allowing Him to heal us and strengthen us in the Sacrament of Penance…he waits for us in the confessional; let’s visit him soon.

Blood of Christ, torrent of mercy, save us.
Mary, refuge of sinners, pray for us. Amen.


Sarita said...
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Deacon Michael J. Houser said...

Thy Kingdom Come!

Dear Fr. Christensen,

I got to preach this weekend and opted to take the same Patristic approach to the parable. I guess great minds think alike:)
Seriously, though, I think it's a great message. What a great way to introduce an important enrichment in the sacramental life of the parish.

Anonymous said...

beautiful homily Father! And kudos for extending times for Confession.
Wish more priests were of like mind in offering this important sacrament more readily and widely.
Reading your blog always brings a smile to my face.
Chris Baran

Anonymous said...

"At our Baptism each one of us was given a white garment, a sign that in Baptism we have taken on a new identity and been raised to the dignity of God’s children."

Too bad that nobody asked us if we wanted to take on that "new identity" and "be raised etc. etc.".

Basically baptism is a forced act on babies that cannot say "no, wait at least until I am a grown-up and can properly make a decision"

Aaron said...

Right children are not asked it they want to be baptized, that is why they have the choice at say aye or nay to the graces offered to them....Parents do what they feel is right for their children. Are young babies asked if they want to have their immunizations to protect them from diseases? are they asked if they want to go to school, when the State says that they must? No, parents make the decision that they feel is best for their children. So, why shouldn't they do this for them in the matter of faith?