November 12 – Twenty-fifth Sunday after Pentecost (8th of Luke), Tone 6 Luke 10:25-37
The Good Samaritan: Luke 10:25-37, especially vs. 33: “But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion.” In the Parable of the Good Samaritan (vss. 30-35), Christ teaches us how the Church practices our faith through works of mercy. He describes a traveler, wounded by robbers, who is aided by a compassionate Samaritan. This merciful man invests his own time, energy, and resources to restore the injured stranger to life and health.
Saint John Chrysostom identifies the Samaritan as a type of Christ, while the wounded man is the human race and the inn a type of the Church as hospital. Reframing the account, Chrysostom enlarges the implications of the parable from a solitary act of kindness into an illustration of the redemptive action of God within the fallen world. We are all mortally wounded by sin, and as a result we departed “from the heavenly state to the state of the devil’s deception, and fell among thieves, that is, the devil and the hostile powers.”
Yes, our sins leave us with “no healing in [our] flesh” nor “peace in [our] bones” (Ps 37:3). Sin disturbs and disrupts our reasoning, emotional life, and will; even our bodies are corrupted. We find ourselves gravely ill. When we commit a sin we inevitably repeat it, for our thinking is “noisome” (vs. 5). Our emotions are aroused by the wrong desires, our wills are weak and infirm. We lose our ability to resist evil, and our capacity to choose purity. We are alienated from the life of God.
The true good Samaritan, Christ our Savior, comes from heaven to earth to rescue us wounded ones. He brings us to safety and pours oil over us at our baptism and chrismation. Saint John Chrysostom suggests that this oil speaks “the comforting word . . . which brings concentration to the scattered mind.”
The Good Samaritan also pours wine on the man’s wounds – Christ offerx His pure blood for our battered souls. “By mixing the Holy Spirit with His blood, He brought life to man,” says Chrysostom. Our participation in holy communion restores us to true health.
Then Christ sets us upon His own animal. “Taking flesh upon His own divine shoulders, He lifted it toward the Father in Heaven,” Chrysostom continues. Then the Lord “brought him to an inn, and took care of him” (Lk 10:34). Our Lord brings us poor travelers through this life and “into the wonderful and spacious inn, this universal Church.” We do not join the Church; it is God’s gift to us.
Let us consider the arrangement with the innkeeper who sees to the man’s continuing care. Saint John Chrysostom identifies this innkeeper with the Apostle Paul, who tells “the high priests and teachers and ministers of each church” to “take care of the people of the Gentiles whom I have given to you in the Church.
“Since men are sick, wounded by sin, heal them, putting on them a stone plaster, that is, the prophetic sayings and the Gospel teachings, making them whole through the admonitions and exhortations of the Old and New Testaments” (Vlachos, Orthodox Psychotherapy, p. 27-28).
Christ heals us through the mystical work of the Holy Spirit, pouring the life of God into our bodies, souls, and spirits. God dispels our delusions and the darkness of eternal death. But let us be patient. It will take time for the Good Samaritan to remove all the poison, corruption, and wounds that left us half dead along the road of life.
O Christ, Thou only Lover of mankind, purify us who are wounded on our journey through this world, and pour on us the oil and wine of the Holy Spirit, that we may receive eternal life and healing for our souls.