15th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C): Gospel – Luke 10:25-37
The usual reaction to the parable of the Good Samaritan is an examination of conscience: how well do we step forward to help our neighbor?
But instead of always comparing ourselves to the Good Samaritan, it can be beneficial to identify with the robbers’ victim. From a spiritual perspective, we are the wounded; unable to save ourselves, we need someone to rescue us from sin and eternal death.
The Church Fathers interpreted the parable through this lens, seeing the wounded man as symbolic of fallen humanity and the Good Samaritan as a symbol of Jesus.
Benedict XVI summarizes this theologically rich explanation in his first volume of Jesus of Nazareth (pp. 200-201):
The road from Jerusalem to Jericho thus turns out to be an image of human history; the half-dead man lying by the side of it is an image of humanity. Priest and Levite pass by; from earthly history alone, from its cultures and [human] religions alone, no healing comes.
If the assault victim is the image of Everyman, the Samaritan can only be the image of Jesus Christ. God Himself, Who for us is foreign and distant, has set out to take care of His wounded creature. God, though so remote from us, has made Himself our neighbor in Jesus Christ.
He pours oil and wine into our wounds, a gesture seen as an image of the healing gift of the sacraments, and He brings us to the inn, the Church, in which He arranges our care and also pays a deposit for the cost of that care…
Now we realize that we always need God, Who makes Himself our neighbor so that we can become neighbors.
The Good Samaritan parable thus has special resonance during this Jubilee Year of Mercy. Having received God’s mercy, we then act mercifully toward our neighbors:
Everyone must first be healed and filled with God’s gifts. But then everyone is also called to become a Samaritan – to follow Christ and become like Him.
Question for reflection: How am I allowing the Lord to heal my woundedness?