BRETHREN IN CHRIST our Lord, how blessed we are, gathered at the altar of God, to worship Him in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass of All Time—the Holy Mass of the apostolic tradition which feeds us with the pure truth of our Holy Catholic Faith.
The word of God addresses to us today a powerful parable, certainly one of the best known in the Scriptures. It comes from the Gospel of St. Luke, whose impressive literary style gained his narrative the title of “the most beautiful book ever written.” Luke was the only non-Jewish evangelist among the four; as a physician, he possessed high education in the Greek tradition and was blessed with an exquisite literary talent.
It is in Luke’s Gospel that we find the most wonderful parables: about the rich man and Lazarus; about the lost sheep; about the prodigal son and about the Good Samaritan. St. Luke was putting such emphasis on the message of God’s mercy towards the human race that his Gospel earned the nickname Gospel of mercy.
This teaching is simply amazing, as every word spoken by Christ Jesus reveals to us the truth about God Whose love embraces all and Who desires our salvation. Today’s parable is so moving so deep in meaning that it is surely known to every person on earth. Yet, why is it that this parable has such powerful impact on our minds and souls? To delve into this teaching, first we need to place it upon a wider scriptural context.
Unfortunately, a false concept of mercy is being spread now in the Church by liberal shepherds who want the Church to tolerate sins of gross immorality, every sodomite abomination, in the name of mercy.
We are in the 10th chapter of Luke’s narrative describing how Our Lord began His journey to Jerusalem. Recall how on the way one Samaritan village refused to receive Jesus and his apostles, and the twelve reacted angrily, asking the Lord to send down fire from heaven upon this village in punishment. And Jesus rebuked them for thinking that way. And this is why Our Lord tells the parable of the Good Samaritan. It shocked the disciples, for the Jews never thought of the Samaritans as good; in fact they called them dogs. It is worthwhile to shed light upon the historical sources of such hostility.
In the 8th century before Christ, the northern kingdom of Israel, comprised by ten tribes of the chosen people, was conquered by the Assyrians, who practiced the policy of mass deportation of the whole population. In their place they brought in other pagan nations. Consequently ten tribes of Israel disappeared into the dust of history, and only two remained: Judah and Benjamin in the south around Jerusalem. Later on, as God’s punishment for a horrible crime of rape, the tribe of Benjamin was wiped out, so upon the return of the exiles from Babylon, in the 6th century before Christ, only the Judean state was rebuilt. This is why these people were called Jews. They had assumed a very exclusive religious and racial identity, separating themselves completely from other ethnic groups, whom they considered pagan. The mixed Jews living in Samaria were not even allowed to join in the reconstruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, and so they were forced to worship God on the mount Gerazim. The Judean Jews believed they were the only chosen people expecting the Messiah; their law was “eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth” and they held other nations in contempt.
So it is among people of that mentality that our Lord is preaching the message of salvation for all nations, by God who is our Father and reveals His love through mercy. How often our Lord would remind the Jews the teaching of the prophets: “I desire mercy not sacrifice.” This is the background for Jesus’ teaching of the parable of the Good Samaritan that shocked the Jews but was meant to open their hearts to the action of grace. Behold one proud Pharisee, well educated in the Mosaic Law, thus knowing the teaching on the love of neighbor, desiring to present himself as righteous while humiliating Jesus, Whom he considered a deceiver of the people, asked a provocative question: “and who is my neighbor? For the Jews, their neighbor in the biblical sense was only another Jew. And perhaps this Pharisee was expecting a confirmation of their tradition. Yet, Our Lord surprised him, not giving a direct answer but challenging him to think in a completely different way. Telling the parable, Our Lord compels the Pharisee to look at himself to discover what kind of a neighbor he was towards others. Because this is what God expects of us as the condition for our salvation–each one of us is to be a good neighbor to people around us.
The Church is in the midst of a “diabolical disorientation” affecting so many shepherds, and the false doctrine of mercy is truly opening before souls the gates of hell, while painting soothing pictures that living in sin is OK because —as they say—“God is merciful.”
In the parable, Our Lord presented three examples of human conduct – a priest, a Levite and the Samaritan. And it was the third one – the stranger, the despised one – who was moved in heart over the suffering of another person and offered help. When the Pharisee recognized this as an act of mercy, Our Lord sent him away with the exhortation go and do likewise. Brethren, these words, so piercing and imperative, are addressed to us today. This is an injunction from our Savior to every person who is God’s child and wishes to inherit eternal life: Go and do likewise. No one will enter heaven, without practicing this command in his life.
We need to recall here Our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy.” Here we discover the meaning of this parable, yet it only affirms the thrust of all of Christ’s teaching about salvation: God shows us infinite mercy, but demands that we be merciful, too. So we need to ask: what is mercy? It is crucial to grasp the meaning of this term in the context of the Gospel, in order to avoid its false interpretation. How many people reject the Christian teaching on mercy as impossible and unfit for our modern times, as it upsets human logic which favors caution and protective distance towards others. Saint John Paul II was teaching that the present-day mentality, more perhaps than that of people in the past, seems opposed to a God of mercy, and in fact tends to exclude from life and to remove from the human heart the very idea of mercy. Our post-modernist culture has been greatly influenced by the nihilistic philosophy of Frederick Nietzsche, who criticized Christianity exactly for the Beatitudes and the Gospel of mercy. Nietzsche called this teaching “a crime against life,” seeing in it only weakness and cowardly surrender; whereas he advocated the birth of a “superman” guided by will to power, wild life instinct and utter mercilessness!
Nietzsche held Christ’s teaching in contempt, as he called it “a religion of pity.” He wrote: “What can be more harmful than crime? Pity—that multiplier of misery, supporting all that is weak and miserable and unworthy of life. The weak should die, and we should help them do it—this is our principle of love of humanity.” Such horrific Nietzschean philosophical notions influenced not only the evil ideologies of Communism and Nazism, but also had a great impact on the mentality of our society. For it is this nihilistic, merciless philosophy that provides intellectual support to ideas of abortion and euthanasia—ideas that deny to the unborn, the sick and the old the right to live. And this is promoted as a human right to freedom. It must be the ultimate perversity to call assisting a person to kill himself an act of mercy, as it is being done in our time.
So what is mercy? We turn to the great teacher of mercy in our time, Saint John Paul II who wrote: “By His life and through His actions, Jesus revealed that love is present in the world in which we live—a love that addresses itself to man and embraces everything that makes up his humanity. This love makes itself particularly noticed in contact with suffering, injustice and poverty—in contact with the whole historical “human condition,” which in various ways manifests man’s limitations and frailty, both physical and moral.
God desires the conversion of a sinner – his repentance and a strong resolve to turn away from sin into a life of grace; then mercy is possible. Liberal shepherds have lost all regard for Catholic truth – they seek popularity in the world at the expense of truth, and just as horribly, at the price of leading many souls to hell.
It is precisely the mode and sphere in which love manifests itself that in biblical language is called “mercy”. Thus, mercy is that kind of love which leans over human suffering, pain, weakness, sin and misery to offer a helping hand, to lift up, to console, to give hope for a new life. This is what God has done for us, all the way to the Cross–and this is why we must be attentive to our neighbor, like that Good Samaritan, ready to lean over his suffering, bind his wounds and bring him back to life.
Importantly, John Paul II has also warned us against a popular distortion of the meaning of mercy, saying: “mercy is not a sign of weakness or of a falsely conceived attitude of tolerance towards evil.” Yet unfortunately such a false concept of mercy is being spread now in the Church by liberal shepherds who want the Church to tolerate sins of gross immorality, every sodomite abomination, in the name of mercy. No repentance is demanded; no detestation of evil called for; no returning to God with all one’s heart even suggested – this is pure horror for this is not an act of mercy, but rather an act of complicity in the sins of another.
As a faithful bishop put it: Preaching a sort of mercy without the necessary conversion of poor sinners, would be a message devoid of meaning for heaven, a diabolical trap that would tranquilize the world in its folly and its increasingly open rebellion against God, whereas heaven is quite positive about it: God will not be mocked. The Church is in the midst of a “diabolical disorientation” affecting so many shepherds, and the false doctrine of mercy is truly opening before souls the gates of hell, while painting soothing pictures that living in sin is OK because —as they say—“God is merciful.” God desires the conversion of a sinner – his repentance and a strong resolve to turn away from sin into a life of grace; then mercy is possible. Liberal shepherds have lost all regard for Catholic truth – they seek popularity in the world at the expense of truth, and just as horribly, at the price of leading many souls to hell. We must reject false modernist teachings, keeping the Traditional Catholic faith of our fathers - a faith that accepts no compromises with evil, but holds fast to Christ, to His Truth and the Cross of Salvation. Brethren in Christ our Lord, today’s God’s word pierces our hearts and minds presenting the parable of the Good Samaritan as a lesson essential for our life, if we are to inherit God’s Kingdom. Mercy must become the way of our life and of our attitude towards our neighbor: “Go and do likewise!”
God desires our salvation but He must find some evidence of mercy we have shown to others in our life, if we are to enter heaven. This truth was so poignantly expressed by the literary genius of Dostoyevsky in “Brothers Karamazov” where he recounts an old Russian folk story which is so pertinent to our meditation on the Gospel of the Good Samaritan, that it is worth recalling: “Once upon a time there was a woman, and she was wicked as wicked could be, and she died. And not one good deed was left behind her. The devils took her and threw her into the lake of fire. And her guardian angel stood thinking: what good deed of hers can I remember to tell God? Then he remembered and said to God: once she pulled up an onion and gave it to a beggar woman. And God answered: take now that same onion, hold it out to her in the lake, let her take hold of it and pull, and if you pull her out of the lake, she can go to paradise. The angel ran to the woman and held out the onion to her: here, woman he said, take hold of it and I’ll pull. And he began pulling carefully and had almost pulled her all of the way out, when other sinners in the lake saw her being pulled out and all began holding on to her so as to be pulled out with her. But the woman was wicked as wicked could be, and she began to kick them with her feet: ‘It’s me who’s getting pulled out, not you; it’s my onion, not yours.’
No sooner did she say it than the onion broke. And the woman fell back into the lake and is burning there to this day. And the angel wept and went away.” So brethren, never ask: who is my neighbor? but be a good neighbor to every person you meet on your path in life. Remember Our Lord’s teaching: “Go and do likewise” – and one day the gates of heaven will open before you. Amen.
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