Sunday, July 14, 2013

Homily - "Be merciful to your neighbor in body and soul"

I visited Seattle, Washington, for the first time last week.  What a beautiful city! Located amid mountains and waterways, it has breath-taking views and scenery. We had perfect weather while I was there. The myth about Seattle is that it rains nine months of the year. It's said that people from there spread that rumor so that others won't move there...! But, it actually rains more in New York City than in Seattle.

It's a long flight to the Pacific Northwest. By the way, that is the most un-churched region in the country, according to studies. So, on the way out there, I had many reading materials on my phone, mainly through Kindle. I burned up my phone and then went to crossword puzzles.  One of the puzzles had a 13-letter word with the clue, "humanitarian".  Once I got some of the letters, I realized it was two words: Good Samaritan.  Kind of a shallow description of the Good Samaritan, but okay. 

Good timing for that answer, too, seeing as how it's today's Gospel! I came across a commentary in the Magnificat from Father Barron about the Good Samaritan. It is rich and meaty! It's like a full entree compared to the side dish of "humanitarian" from the crossword puzzle in describing the Good Samaritan. Father Barron has been described as a genius; he is a brilliant teacher of our faith. Listen to his commentary on today's Gospel:

"The unfortunate man in Jesus' parable who makes his way from Jerusalem to Jericho represents the human race which has fallen from the glory of the heavenly city to the degradation of the city of sin. Waylaid by robbers and left half-dead, he symbolizes all of humanity, robbed of its dignity and rendered incapable of saving itself. A priest and a Levite pass by but do nothing to help the wounded man. This vividly represents the incapacity of law and religious ritual in and of themselves to save us from sin.

Finally, a hated Samaritan, a half-breed, stops and, moved with pity, pours wine and oil into the sufferer's sores. He stands for Jesus, God and man, who applies the balm of the sacraments - the wine of the Eucharist and the oil of baptism, confirmation, and the anointing of the sick - to the wounds of the sin-sick soul. The Samaritan then brings the poor man to an inn and offers to pay for his treatment. The word "redemption" means, literally, to buy back, to pay for. Bearing the burden of our sins on the cross, Jesus paid our debt. He bought us back. 

This great parable of Jesus is so much more than a morality tale.  It is a self-portrait of the Redeemer himself".

This is much deeper and more substantial than the Good Samaritan being merely a humanitarian. We all know the instruction of the parable: be like the Samaritan. After hearing Father Barron's commentary, we now know it means to be like Christ...the Redeemer.  It means to not just care for those who are in need of physical healing, but those who need spiritual healing. To be Christ the Redeemer means to bring salvation to people and people to salvation. We're not saying that we are saved; but we have put ourselves in the position of being saved by coming to Christ's wine and oil in the sacraments. We are called to reach out to those who are not in position, and offer them the wine and oil. If they don't come to Church, we bring the Church to them. This is the New Evangelization! Bringing people to Christ and Christ to people...for spiritual healing and salvation.

A friend brought a man to me a couple weeks ago who isn't Catholic but wanted me to pray over him. He has been going to doctors and ministers and anyone else for help with his migraine headaches for years. So, he came to me; I prayed over him and we did Eucharist Adoration, Benediction, and read Scripture. Afterwards, he said he felt physically better, but really focused on the spiritual healing of the Catholic Church.  He asked much about the Eucharist, Confession, and so many of the healing aspects of Catholicism. There are so many! We have the fullness of Christ in the Church, so we have the fullness of his healing.

In today's Gospel, The Lord calls us to be merciful to our neighbor. He calls us to be like Him who is the Redeemer. Let us imitate our Redeemer by being merciful to our neighbor in body and in soul. 

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