The Blue Mountains Franciscan Church
Sermon preached by Br. Andrew at Springwood Sunday 10th July 2016
8th Sunday After Pentecost year C
The parable of the good Samaritan
Chapter 7: How he was taken by robbers and thrown into the snow; …
- [St Francis] who formerly wore scarlet array was now going clad in scanty garments, and as he was singing praises to the Lord in French in a certain wood, some robbers suddenly rushed upon him.10On their asking him in no friendly tone who he was, the man of God answered confidently with a loud voice, “I am a herald of the great King. What is that to you?” But they beat him and cast him into a pit filled with deep snow, saying, “Lie there, you clownish herald of God!” But he turned himself this way and that to shake off the snow, and when they went away he jumped out of the pit, and exhilarated by great joy began with loud voice through the grove to utter praises to the Creator of all things…. ( I Celano Part 1:Chapter7.16)
In our first reading we read:
“The word is very near to you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it.” [Deut. 30:14]
None of us can deny that it would be truly comforting to know for sure that we had inherited Eternal Life and that in our living forever we would share our life before the face of God rather than behind God’s back. Inheriting eternal life is in doing just as Jesus said – loving God to our utmost and loving our neighbour as ourselves. And the “How” is as close as our heart. In living this mandate of the higher Law, remember lusting is Adultery or Rape. Jesus’ fulfilment of the Levitical Law actually set us all free to think about what we are doing rather than what the required sacrifice will be after we had done the evil. Sounds a bit like the Romans going to confession on a Saturday morning estimating their Aves and Pater Nosters.
Jesus turns the table on the Lawyer so that the questioner becomes the questioned and so we learn that the Lawyer was a law abider and would live.
Next the Lawyer sought to justify himself by asking for the definition of ‘Neighbour’ so that when one came along he would know how to behave towards one as opposed to one who turned out not to be his neighbour. Or would know for sure that he had actually kept the Law.
He is still thinking in the old manner of Definition and prescribed action rather than love and mercy to all.
He wants to know what it is before he does what he should, then Jesus tells us all this well remembered story. We do not know for sure the nationality of the victim, or the robbers, only the identity of the three characters in the play.
We know the victim was naked and so his habit or garments didn’t give a clue as to his “Tribe” so to speak so was it something other than becoming unclean that kept the priest from helping? Likewise, for the Levi, was it the pressing business in Jerusalem that just couldn’t wait, the fear of becoming ceremonially unclean or was it that they just did not know what to do since it had been so long, if ever, that they had acted compassionately because their hearts had once more turned to stone and the word was far away.
The Samaritan, the whole point being that Samaritans were hated by the Jews and considered unclean, so usually we are intended to deduce that the victim was a Jew – yet the Nationality of the victim is irrelevant to us because it is the actions of the others which count. The Samaritan showed compassion, the word was not frozen in his heart nor far away from him in fact we might say that he is the Christian in the narrative.
After tending the man’s wounds this Samaritan set him on his own horse and left him in an Inn to heal and returned to pay the price of the Care.
Who is the neighbour? The one who shows mercy and it doesn’t matter whether they are pink and black with green spots it is their Love in action which speaks louder than anything they might say or Be or considered to Be.
What of the Church today, from my view point the Mainstream Churches do appear to walk on the other side of the road to avoid the wounded ones, the Priests and the canon lawyers even dreaming up reason why they should or must, perhaps like our first century fellows above.
Yet we are all potentially the Body of Christ and each Christian is being told to have mercy, to be merciful without discrimination. And Mercy works two ways, that we who walk with the victim spare some thought for those whose hearts are frozen and for whom the Word is distant, they are our neighbours too.
Can we be positive about the lack of action we seem to see in the larger organized Churches? That not everyone can do everything and that we cannot all have mercy on the same person or group at the same time to the exclusion of all else. Again let’s not speak of where we have been but of where we intend to be.
Can we be like the small group of Christians at Colossae, of great faith and love toward all the saints yet extend our love to the stranger beside the roadside?
It is in continual prayer that God makes things known to us through the Holy Spirit and will guide us and help us to understand where our community is going.
For the Lawyer his lesson was that even enemies are neighbours and it is really the same message for us completed with to love them as we love ourselves.
Let us Pray
May God strengthen us with all power, according to the might of his glory, that we may endure and persevere with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who prepared us to participate in the inheritance of the saints in light, who delivered us out of the power of darkness, and transformed us into the Kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have our redemption, the forgiveness of our sins. Amen