— The Lord’s Day —

Week 15: Sunday

Pondering Jesus’ victorious Word

εὐαγγελίζω (euaggelizo)
“to announce the Good News of victory in battle”

“ ... 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.”

θεωρέω (theoreo)
(“to perceive, discover, ponder a deeper meaning”)

And now for something completely different; well, maybe not ‘completely different.’ Fret not, Sousa’s Liberty Bell will not start nor will you see a squashing Monty Python foot on your screen. But there is a facet of this Sunday’s Gospel that is worth considering from a different perspective.

No doubt many in Church this Sunday will be quite familiar with the Parable popularly known as the “Good Samaritan.” The Parable is synonymous with the moral imperative of assisting those in any need whatsoever. Enshrined for the ages as the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy, these actions are not optional for the Christian, or any person for that matter. It is a message that is sounded loud and clear in this Parable. Parables, though, are quite rich in meaning when it comes to the reality of the Kingdom of God (click to read an earlier post on Parables) and as powerful as apparent lessons are from the Text, there is always more.

The rich meaning that Parables embody was not lost on the Fathers of the Church. In probing the salvific meaning of the Sacred Text the use of the Spiritual Senses of Scripture enabled them to see deep connections between Text and life (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 115-119). Among the many who offered commentary on this Sunday’s Parable, Saint Ambrose of Milan presents some interesting insights worth pondering.

In his Exposition of the Gospel of Luke, Saint Ambrose comments on the two coins given by the Samaritan to the Innkeeper: “What are those two coins, unless perhaps the two Testaments that contain revealed within them the image of the eternal King, at the price of whose wounds we are healed. Precious blood redeemed us, that we may avoid the sores of final death (Exposition of the Gospel of Luke, 7.80).” For Ambrose, Jesus acts as the Samaritan who picks up the one who fell among robbers, robbers being the Evil One and his minions. As humans, we sadly choose erroneous and dangerous paths to travel (even in Jesus’ day, the road from Jerusalem to Jericho was hazardous. The road itself was narrow: on one-side thieves and bandits hid in rock crevices waiting to pounce on unsuspecting travelers. As for the other side of this narrow road, one could easily slip off the road and plunge hundreds of feet into a valley of jagged rocks.) Despite our poor choices, the Samaritan (Jesus) rescues us, brings us to the Inn (Church) and pays the price for our healing (His life-giving death and resurrection). Jesus further equips us with the two coins of Scripture’s Testaments: the Old and the New, given to form humanity to choose always life’s proper road and to assist one another along the way because of our relationship to the One God and Father of us all.