Sunday of the Great Lent:
The Parable of
the Good Samaritan
According to our Syriac Orthodox calendar, today is the fifth Sunday of the great Lent, and we have read the Gospel of the parable of the Good Samaritan.
This very famous parable of the Good Samaritan, which is found only in the Gospel of Luke, invites us to recapture and rediscover the truth of the basic goodness of human nature, and the possibility for goodness within each one of us.
As we heard from the gospel of St. Luke, that a lawyer had tried to test our Lord asking what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus replied in a manner which is following the spirit of the law - loving God with all one's heart, mind, soul and strength and loving one's neighbor as himself - one will inherit eternal life. This was the righteousness of the law. Another way of looking at, it is that if one does only good and never sins, naturally inherits eternal life, there being no basis of condemnation.
The priest and the Levite represent the religious elite. These people were typically arrogant and hypocritical treating others they considered to be of a lower class, such as Samaritans, with contempt. Samaritans in particular were looked down upon. Although they held claims on Judaism, they were not pure Jews. They were half-breeds both genetically and theologically, and the Jewish religious elite was also quite racist at the time. Characteristic of Jesus, He loves to humiliate the proud and lift up the humble, and thus, He used a Samaritan in His illustration.
If one is trying to attain the righteousness which is through the law, he must realize that it is not sufficient simply to obey the letter of the law, or simply have the attitude of fulfilling responsibilities. For according to the law, one must love with all the heart, mind, soul, and strength.
Jesus meant for the requirements of the Law to seem overwhelming. And in this way to prepare people, even the self-righteous, to be obliged to receive the gospel of grace. For the gospel of grace contains a righteousness which is apart from the Law, the righteousness from God, which comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all those who believe.
This story has a spiritual special meaning, one which helps us see deeper into God and helps us to solve most of the rest of the details of it. This story has important details, symbolism, and interpretation for one to learn from.
The "Man" who was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho is mankind. Jerusalem in this case is a picture of Paradise and it is from there that Adam's race fell to earth. Jericho is physically much lower that Jerusalem. Jerusalem is on a hill high. It was the place in Old Testament times where men went to find God, or to find access to heaven itself.
Jericho is below sea level at the foot of the mountain range, on the plain of Jericho, near the Dead Sea. This choice of cities pictures the fall of man, and his eventual destiny with Jericho.
Along the way the man is attacked and wounded by thieves and left half dead. The Robbers are Satan, and his demons, who have beat up mankind and left it half dead. The human race is alive physically, but without the Holy Spirit is dead spiritually, we are half dead, and that is the separation from God who is the source of life.
The priest happens to be down the road and does nothing, represents the priesthood of the Old Testament who could do nothing to repair this injury of sin. The Levite represents those who administered the Mosaic Law. Also unable to help, they pass by on the other side.
The Samaritan, is Jesus Himself. He is able to help the man and does so. How? By pouring on oil and wine. Oil is symbolic of anointing, which is the root word in the word "Christ" and is pointing at Jesus' giving of the Holy Spirit at Baptism. Wine, symbolic of blood, pictures the Samaritan giving of His Own Blood on the Cross in order to heal the mankind.
Once the immediate wounds are taken care of the Samaritan puts the man on His own donkey. That means the incarnated God (Christ) put on the sins of mankind on His taken human flesh and healed him, and also pictures the abandonment of Jesus' throne in Heaven, the donkey being symbolic of biblical kingship, and of Jesus' willingness to walk on earth in order to heal mankind.
Finally, the Samaritan puts the man in the care of an inn keeper paying him 2 silver coins for his help. The inn keeper is the New Priesthood of the Holy Spirit, who is given charge over the man until the Samaritan returns in His Second coming to collect the wounded man, and the two coins are His Body and Blood for the healing (remission) of the man’s wounds (sins).
So thus, we can learn from this 5th Sunday of the Holy Lent, the Sunday of Shumroyo Tobo (Good Samaritan); that the Lord wanted us to know that there is nobody out of God’s love, we must love God and our neighbor and hate no one at all.
In this parable we can collect the attitudes of ours as humans and God.
1) To the expert in the law (lawyer), the wounded man was a subject to discuss,
2) To the robbers, the wounded man was someone to use and exploit,
3) To the religious men, the wounded man was a problem to be avoided,
4) To the innkeeper, the wounded man was a customer to serve for a fee,
5) To the Samaritan, the wounded man was a human, being worth being cared for and loved,
6) To Jesus, as God, all of them and all of us were worth dying for.
We live in a world that needs healing. We are surrounded by people who need healing. The pain of this healing is manifold. It comes from the past. It comes from the present. It is physical. It is emotional. It is spiritual. It is mental. And all are desperate for a miracle. Physical injuries of every kind have left others maimed or crippled to the point that they struggle to accomplish even the smallest of tasks.
These people encircle our churches. They are our members. They are our neighbors. We speak to them at our jobs. We speak to them on the streets. Everyday of our lives we are in constant contact with individuals who desperately need a healing of some sort in their life. Could we be like the Good Samaritan and give them some help?
May we all be ready to give our neighbor or charities everything we can, and may God bless everyone who gives with joy, and may God Bless all of you forever, and grant you a share in His kingdom by His love to mankind. Amen. Amen.