Daily Reflections

Luke 10:25-37  •  Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)

The lawyer, anxious to define correctly the demands and the limits of the Law, wanted to know where he stood. He wanted to satisfy the Law’s requirements comfortably and not be challenged by it. Jesus insisted that at the heart of the Law is to love God with all one’s heart, soul, mind and strength. There can be no limits to this kind of love.

In this parable of the man moved by mercy, the priest and the Levite acted within the strict limits of the Law in not helping a foreigner. The law of compassion, however, could not ignore the needs of the injured man, left half-dead. The Samaritan exercised mercy by pouring oil on his wounds, binding them up, taking him to safety and providing for all his physical and spiritual needs. The Samaritan alone was a true neighbour to him.

In the context of the paschal mystery of Christ and of the life that flows from it, St Augustine gave this parable a spiritual interpretation. For St Augustine Jesus is the Good Samaritan; the injured man represents our wounded sinful humanity. Jesus cleanses with the wine of his blood the wounds which sin has inflicted upon us, heals them with the oil of the Spirit, and removes us from certain death into the safety of his kingdom. The innkeeper is the Pope. This beautiful interpretation shows us how Jesus acts always in the spirit of compassion. In mercy he came from heaven to become man. In mercy he gave his life for our salvation. During his life Jesus’ heart was moved by compassion – for example, when he taught and fed the five thousand (Mark 6:30-44); raised to life the only son of a widow at Nain (Luke 7:11-15); refused to condemn the woman taken in adultery (John 8:2-11); healed the blind beggar (Luke 18:35-43). The spirit of mercy and compassion permeated his whole being.

Since we are called to love like Christ we too must be moved by his same spirit. The merciful heart cannot be bound by legal restrictions or niceties, or by self-interest and self-protection. The compassionate heart gives without limit, just as Jesus gave himself for us on the cross without measure.

‘Jesus, you are compassion and love. Do not allow me to harden my heart against the needs of others. Give me your spirit of compassion so that both my heart and my actions may radiate your love to all.’

Deuteronomy 30:10-14  •  Psalm 66(67):14, 17, 30-37
Colossians 1:15-20  •  Luke 10:25-37

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