The webpage of the Youth Ministry of the Irish Province of Augustinians

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C - 14th July, 2013


There is more than one way to read the parable of the Good Samaritan.  I suspect that everyone is familiar with the very practical idea contained in this parable – that loving others is something that involves practical, and sometimes very onerous, commitment to serving the needs of those others.  Even if there were someone who was not familiar with this story, the message of going the extra mile for those in need is abundantly clear.
 
The Father’s of the Church is a name given to a number of figures (all of them now recognised by the church as saints) who have made a significant contribution to the development of the interpretation of the Bible and of the faith. Among the most famous of these Fathers are Augustine, Tertullian, John Chrysostom, and Isidore. Origen is a close contender too but he doesn’t satisfy the three conditions which are traditionally accepted as being necessary for someone to be considered as a Father of the Chruch: orthodox doctrine, holiness of life, and antiquity.
 
A number of these Fathers, especially Clement of Alexandria (Origen too, although he is not considered a Father of the Church) offer a reading of this parable which, I suspect, many will find both interesting and challenging.
As Clement sees it, the Good Samaritan in the parable is Christ himself.  When others failed to help the man that had been robbed he was not abandoned by Christ.  Christ “draws near” to the man (incarnation). This is an idea that is echoed in the other two readings of today’s eucharist which speak of the closeness of the relationship between God and the people.
 
In the parable we are the man who was travelling.  We have found ourselves to be surrounded by difficulties and we are lost on the road.  Remember that in the gospel the image of the way is, very much, an allusion to the reality of discipleship.  Even when we are lost on the way God has reached out to us. Jesus represents the acute concern of the God for the one who is trying to be a disciple. The disciple, no matter how bad things have got, is not alone on the road. As Pope St. Leo the Great said: “Christ is the hand of God's mercy stretched out to us.”
 
The encounter with Christ is not an experience of sanctifying what is already there. This is not an experience of the benediction of misery. Through the action of Christ the believer is transformed – restored – and is able to continue on the way.
 
In other words the disciple who encounters difficulty in trying to follow the way who is Christ is not abandoned by Christ when things go badly.  By relying on the help of Christ and, especially by allowing Christ to heal him, the disciple who had, in one way or another, stopped following the way, is renewed and empowered once again to be able to follow the way – Christ.
 
Putting it in a rather strange-sounding way: The one who is on the Way, is helped by the Way to continue to follow the Way which is not the way (small “w”) of those who only think of themselves and their own concerns.
 
The parable culminates in a spectacular way which leaves no doubt about what discipleship is all about: “Go and do likewise!”.
 
This is uncompromising. The disciple is sent out, in Augustine’s words, as “another Christ”.  Not a replacement, not a copy, not one who recalls Christ – but a person who makes the life of Christ alive among the others who share the way – the disciples, the followers of the way.
 
The message is clear. We are called to be the ones who draw near to others as Christ.  It is up to us to make Christ’s transforming presence alive in our world.
To be a follower of Christ is not just about walking in Christ’s footsteps; it is also about making the mark of Christ’s footsteps in a world that often either refuses or is unable to recognise his presence.
Possidius




Article posted on 8th of July 2013

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