(Fore-note: I will be speaking this Saturday at a Conference on the Divine Will in Vancouver (Canada). If anyone in that area is interested in attending, more information can be found here.)
Origen, a Father of the Church, writes the following about the Parable of the Good Samaritan, which we heard at Mass this past Sunday:
(Taken from Homilies on Luke. CUA Press, 2010. Page 138. Note that the “beast” is what the translation read at Mass refers to as the “animal” upon whom the Samaritan places the man who fell victim to robbers. )
This understanding, of course, is not in the least intended to diminish the importance of the more obvious meaning of the parable: the necessity of charity, compassion, and works of mercy, and the emptiness of superficial piety and religiosity that neglects these fundamentals. And yet, how sad it is that this understanding of the Fathers of the Church is likely neglected year after year in the homilies preached on this passage throughout the world. (My wife was treated to a homily on dogs and on some empty platitude from a recently deceased man’s obituary. Many others were even more lucky, having sat through homilies consisting in nothing other than Bishop’s Appeal marketing pleas). But I could offer that same lamentation just about any Sunday, considering the deplorable state of the Church today as regards the approach so many of her clergy take to our Sacred Tradition: I offer it today because of the special importance of this parable.
The Old Covenant — as Origen says, represented in this parable by the priest and the Levite — failed to restore this poor man to health. But at last the Samaritan came, the first time, and did what was necessary so that this man could have his health restored. That, of course, is precisely what Our Lord has done in the Redemption — giving this man medicine (Sacraments) and putting him into the inn (the Church).
But this parable beautifully illustrates that Redemption itself points to its own completion occurring at some point in the future, in the inn. Yes, Our Lord’s coming will bear its full fruit, within the Church He founded and within the History He created. There is no reason to suppose that the Samaritan’s return “on his way back” refers allegorically merely to the end of time; a time when the man in the inn simply grows more and more sick during his time at the inn until, at long last, the Samaritan comes to put him out of his misery by euthanizing him! No; far from it. The Samaritan’s return will be a time of great rejoicing, when he comes to find the victim he saved restored to his health.
And I would like to go further than Origen: the Samaritan’s willingness to pay more money to the innkeeper upon his return speaks volumes. For this additional payment refers, no doubt, to the torrents of grace that Our Lord has been pouring out this last century and the infinitely greater amount He is about to pour out upon the whole world in the years ahead.
Let us, brethren, be on the right side of this outpouring of Grace that, right now, very few are ready for — and let us bring more souls onto the right side while we still can.
I am working on some more initiatives to do my small part of this task — I will announce them on this blog at some point within the next few months; you will receive an email if you are a subscriber (top right corner of this website)
The parable itself: