11 Sep 2022
THE GOOD SAMARITAN
The Gospel. St. Luke x. 23.
Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see: for I tell you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them. And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour? And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, and went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.
Where did the Christian hospitals start? In the beginning the hospitals were the homes of good Christians. They took folks in—strangers, fellow Christians who needed a place to hide from the authorities during the persecutions, the poor, the hungry, and yes the sick. When Constantine became emperor of Rome, Christianity could come out from the underground without fear of persecution. Holy men and bishops, moved by a burning desire to help their suffering neighbors, asked wealthy men and noblemen to provide money and a place for them to take care of the sick and needy. And they responded generously. So did the common Christian man and woman who could afford to give a penny or two to such a cause. Men and women who the ancient chronicles call saints dedicated their whole lives to the sick often risking their very lives in caring for those with contagious illnesses when no one else had the courage to do so. The government did not have the responsibility to do this task in those days though Christian kings and queens would give very generously to see that their subjects had help in time of need. The important thing was that these devoted Samaritans personally attended to the sick and needy doing things that many people today wouldn’t do for their own elderly parents, sad to say
Jesus story in the Gospel today answers the question, “Who is my neighbor?” When Jesus asked the lawyer what scripture says, he responded, “Thou shalt love the lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and they neighbor as thy self.” Then, the follow-up question--by the way Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?”
Who indeed. I think if we asked most of our friends and family, we would get the answer that our neighbors are the folks who live next door. Someone who lives down the block isn’t really a neighbor …unless I get to know him…then I guess he would count. How about the family of your kids’ friends at school? Not really a neighbor …unless, say, we attended athletic events and other school activities together. Then, I suppose, in a wider sense they could be neighbors too. How about the policeman trying to keep the kids safe outside the school? The fireman who saved your neighbor’s house from burning down…or that fire from spreading and burning yours down? How about the soldiers serving overseas? Well, that’s really stretching things out you might say. What? Is everybody my neighbor?
Jesus answered the man’s question with a story. The one big advantage this way of answering has is it tends to make the person who asked the question end up answering it himself! So, Jesus tells us about a poor unfortunate man who is attacked by robbers along the road between Jerusalem and Jericho. This is a long downhill kind of road with plenty of places for robbers to hide along the way. This man was a Jew. He was beaten so badly he was basically left for dead. Two men come by the scene of the crime, but don’t help the victim. We are seeing this sort of thing a lot nowadays. One man got hit by a car in a major city recently, and there is video tape of him being left there for hours while people and cars passed by!
The two men were his fellow countrymen—a priest and a Levite. These men served in God’s Temple; they made sure the sacrifices were performed correctly and were particularly concerned about being ritually clean. So, this was their excuse for not helping this fellow. If they touched him they would probably get his blood on them and be unclean and could not serve in the Temple until they had ritually cleansed themselves. That seemed to them a good excuse for not “getting involved.” What would we say to ourselves now to explain why we wouldn’t stop? If I got involved, I could get sued! I could get robbed myself! It would take a lot of time and I have an important appointment! My wife is waiting! My kids are waiting! My boss is waiting! Or just simply, you must be joking!
The Samaritans are no good. All the Jews agreed on that. Don’t trust them. Don’t get near them. They have distorted the true faith of our God. They don’t worship in the Temple in Jerusalem! Why would Jesus pick this sort of man as the hero of his story? Jesus was talking to Jews. He knew their biases. But He wanted to poke at them with the fact that just the sort of guy you figured was totally worthless is the sort of guy who had his finger on the truth. He knew who his neighbor was. It was the victim of the robbery. It was the one in need. It was… the one he could help. God had given him an opportunity to show his love for his neighbor. Right then. Right there. And the Samaritan had the good sense to realize the opportunity and grab it. He cleaned the man’s wounds! He wasn’t afraid to get “ritually unclean.” He knew there are more important things in God’s eyes! He took the man to an inn so that he could recover. That inn is an ancient forerunner of what Christian hospitals were founded to be. He not only took care of the man’s present need, he told the innkeeper he was good for the man’s future needs as well. The Samaritan was not just doing his duty; he showed how much he deeply and personally cared. Now, that is a neighbor, and the lawyer honestly answered Jesus’ question acknowledging the Samaritan as the true neighbor.
Jesus tells the lawyer to “go and do likewise.” For us today, we could say the bottom line is the same—go and do likewise. But for us Christians there is a lot more. You see, the Church keeps telling this story of the Good Samaritan for another reason. For Christians, we need to also understand this story as the story of Jesus and us. For, you see, Jesus is the Good Samaritan and we are the broken, suffering victim near death on the road to Jericho. You see we too are on a long downward sloping road which has all sorts of places for robbers to hide waiting to attack us. And if we are the victim of crime, lots of folks will pass by. But we are also all victims of sin. God knows this. That’s why He sent His Good Samaritan—Jesus Christ His Son, to rescue us on this perilous road of grief and sorrow. We can’t get to our true destination on our own. He literally had to heal our wounds, pay our bill, and offer the promise of payment for our future failings. He did this by His death on the cross.
We don’t know what the Jewish victim thought or how he acted to the Samaritan who saved him, but we know how we ourselves must respond to the One Who gave everything for us…because He loves us and counts us as His neighbors.
Who is your neighbor? The One Who showed mercy. Go and do likewise…in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
The Earliest Hospitals in Byzantium, Western
Europe, and Islam Peregrine Horden
Go And Do Likewise
A Sermon by Father David Curry
For The Thirteenth Sunday After Holy Trinity
Based Upon St. Luke 10:21-37
September 10, AD 2006
Sermon for Trinity 13 by Mason Beechcroft
On the Passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth...
May He Who rose from the dead, Christ our True God, by the prayers of His Most-pure Mother, of the holy, glorious and all praised Apostles, of our venerable and God bearing Fathers and of all the Saints, establish the soul of His servant Queen Elizabeth, who has been taken from us, in the mansions of the righteous; give her rest in the bosom of Abraham, and number her with the Venerable Ones; and have mercy in us, as He is good and the Lover of Mankind. (The Book of Needs, p. 152)
Bishiop Edwin Tompkins