The gospel lesson for the 8th Sunday of St. Luke the Evangelist is the Parable of the Good Samaritan, who seeing a Jew mortally wounded stops to help him, after both a Jewish priest and a Levite passes by.
Today in our society, or should I say world, life seems too fast too impersonal, in many cases without empathy or feelings towards one’s fellow human being. This indifference however, is not the final word, for if we look over the many centuries past, there are innumerable individuals who have responded to those suffering and in need.
Mercy or indifference are not so much a matter of a particular age or time, or for that matter a certain culture, but most of all a matter of the individual heart.
The Samaritan in this parable epitomizes the true meaning of the Greek word, eleos or mercy, not as simply a feeling but as an act, showing faithfulness, grace, kindness and love. St. Isaac the Syrian defined a merciful heart as a heart burning with love for all creation, human beings and yes animals, “a heart which cannot bear injury or anything hurtful in creation without shedding burning tears of love”.
Christ is often referred to in our hymnography as Merciful, for He is the embodiment of sacrificial love, a love that cannot bear suffering of any part of humanity but comes to the world to redeem humanity from the slavery of sin even though the cost is crucifixion.
Let us further understand that the wounded Jew was Adam, who represents humanity. The thieves were Satan and his demons, and the Good Samaritan was Christ Himself who came to bind the wounds of humanity. As the story continues, the Good Samaritan brought the man to an Inn and asked that they care for him, giving the innkeeper two coins. You see the Inn is the Church allegorical and the two coins represented the highest commandments of God, love of God and love of our neighbor.
So this lesson is given to us to understand mercy, love, compassion and help for our neighbors regardless of who they may be. May God open our eyes to the indifference in this world and conquer it with our mercy which endures all.