15thSunday of the Year 2019 (C )
The Good Samaritan felt compassion for the man who had been robbed and left half dead. He didn’t know him. He’s never seen him before, but his heart went out to him. So he stopped and went out of his way to help the man. We may wonder why the others didn’t stop. We’re told the priest passed by on the other side: what was he doing? Maybe he was in a hurry to say mass somewhere, which of course came first, at least in his mind. Then the other man, the Levite, he too passed by on the other side. What was his excuse? Maybe he thought it was a trap. And he was too smart to get caught like that. These are both understandable excuses: we’ve all been there, especially being in a hurry: ‘no sorry, can’t wait. I’ll say a prayer…’
The Good Samaritan on the other hand felt sorry for this person; he stopped what he had to do in order to help this person in distress. His heart would not let him pass by on the other side. And Jesus praises him. You know, the Good Samaritan is a bit like God; God is compassionate too; in fact, God is compassion. He looks on us and feels sorry for us. Jesus knows what it’s like to be human. ‘Compassion’ means to suffer with. It is one of the most beautiful of all Christian virtues.
If you have been unlucky in life then you have been beaten up. Sadly this kind of thing does happen. However, in spite of what we see on our tv’s and newspapers it is quite rare. Most of us will go through life without this having happened to us. But what we won’t avoid is another kind of injury. By that I mean when we beat up ourselves. Now that might sound like a funny thing to say but there are people who do this, not necessarily literally but in other ways. There are people who self-harm because they want to punish themselves for something they’ve done wrong.
I don’t know anyone who hasn’t done wrong; and some people I know have done really bad things. Often they feel bad about what they’ve done and proceed to beat themselves up. Some forgive themselves but there are too many people who don’t. They continue to beat themselves up in one way or another for the rest of their lives.
Now God looks on such people and weeps. He has compassion on them. He knows of what we are made. He knows we make mistakes. He knows that we are sorry. He doesn’t pass by on the other side. He wants to bind up our wounds; He wants to embrace us and tell us that all is forgiven, that He understands; this is because He is a God of mercy. So it pains God when people who are hurt turn away from Him. They can’t forgive themselves, and believe, that God won’t forgive them.
God is the Good Samaritan. He binds up all our wounds. What we may not realize is the joy that this gives God. His compassion is such that he feels our pain, but He has the power, through his love, to heal us, to make us whole again.