Monday, July 15, 2013

Even When We Were Yet Sinners...

Praised be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph

Samaritans and Jews were not exactly friends to each other. If you recall the gospel reading two Sundays ago, there was a Samaritan town that refused to accept Jesus because he was on his way to Jerusalem. The rivalry was as old as the division of Israel into two kingdoms: the northern kingdom (Samaritans) composed of ten tribes of Israel and the southern kingdom (Jews) composed of two kingdoms. On account of the rival temple which the Samaritans built on Mt. Gerizim, the rift between the two peoples reached its peak because the Jews have always held the tradition that the true Temple was built on Mt. Zion (Jerusalem). That is why that the Lord Jesus would make a Samaritan as the protagonist of his parable would strike a sensitive chord in the hearts of the Jewish listeners.

A Samaritan coming to the aid of a Jew who was robbed and left for dead – the parable was more than just a simple lesson of charity beyond boundaries (borders). It was a portrayal of the history of salvation. Man was robbed by the devil of all the riches he has been endowed with by God. After he was robbed, man was left for dead: “Through the disobedience of one man, sin entered into the world, and together with sin, entered death.” (Romans 5:12) The priest and the levite who both passed by the dying man stood for the Jewish religion. They passed the poor man by not because they did not care but because there was nothing that they could do for him.  The religion of the Law told people what to do and what not to do but the same religion could do nothing more than this. It has no power to save.

It was the Samaritan who came to help. Jesus identified himself with the Samaritan because he, who came from heaven, came to help man who was in reality in enmity with God. St. Paul said: “For why did Christ, when as yet we were weak, according to the time, die for the ungodly?  For scarce for a just man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man some one would dare to die.  But God commendeth his charity towards us; because when as yet we were sinners, according to the time, Christ died for us; much more therefore, being now justified by his blood, shall we be saved from wrath through him.  For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son; much more, being reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.  And not only so; but also we glory in God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received reconciliation.” (Romans 5: 6-11) This is precisely what Jesus did for us. We were ungodly, we were sinners, and yet he cleaned and bound our wounds and lifted us upon his own flesh by himself dying on the cross. He allowed himself to be beaten and be stripped. He was not left half-dead. He himself went all the way – he died on the Cross. Indeed, the Lord Jesus is truly a neighbor for us. He is the “one who treated him (us) with mercy.” And he commands us to do the same. The Lord said weeks ago: the one who is forgiven much loves much. He bound our wounds. By his stripes we were healed. He treated us with mercy. Let us forgive as we have been forgiven. Let us heal as we were healed. We were forgiven much. Therefore, let us love much.

Jesus, I trust in you. O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.

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