The Gospel lesson for the 8th Sunday of the Evangelist Luke, chapter 10:25-37, is known as the Parable of the Good Samaritan. We all know the story, but it behooves us to hear the Blessed Augustine and his interpretation.
It begins, “the man going from Jerusalem to Jericho was Adam representing humanity. The brigands who fell upon the man, robbed and beat him nearly to death were Satan and his demons. The Good Samaritan was Christ who bent down to bind the wounds of humanity. The inn where the Samaritan brought the injured man was the Church. The two coins he gave to the innkeeper were the two highest commandments: love of God and love of neighbor.”
You see as the story goes, it was possible even in first century Palestine for a mortally wounded Jew to be passed up by a Jewish priest and a Levite, but to be helped by a Samaritan, the Jews supposed enemy. It goes to say that mercy and indifference are not so much a matter of a particular age or culture, but a matter of the individual heart.
The essence of this story is that the Samaritan showed mercy to the dying Jew. Mercy according to the Bible is not a feeling but essentially a helpful act showing faithfulness, grace, kindness and love. Remember the words of Our Lord to His followers when he said, “Be merciful just as your Father in heaven is merciful”. (Luke 6:36).
In our prayers and hymns, Christ is frequently referred to as merciful, for He embodies sacrificial love, a love that cannot bear the suffering of humanity but comes to the world to redeem humanity from the slavery of sin, even though the cost is crucifixion. St. Isaac the Syrian defined a merciful heart as a heart burning with love for all creation, human beings, animals, birds, a heart which cannot bear injury or anything hurtful in creation without shedding burning tears of love. This is the full meaning of this parable and can easily be applied to our present society, which unfortunately does not comprehend the true meaning of mercy!
Let us also remember that November 15th marks the beginning of the Nativity Fast (Advent). This is the forty-day period before the Feast of the Nativity in which the Church seeks to prepare us for the true meaning of Christmas, the salvation of mankind.