Sunday, July 11, 2010

Allegorical Samaritans

The gospel for this Sunday (15th Sunday of Ordinary Time) was the Parable of the Good Samaritan. By happy coincidence, I just happened to be re-reading Chapter Seven: The Message of the Parables from Pope Benedict's book, Jesus of Nazareth. The Holy Father argues that we can't rule out reading the parables in an allegorical sense and we can't limit the meaning of the parable to just one salient point. He then goes on to give a more in-depth consideration to three parables, one of which is the Parable of the Good Samaritan. In an allegorical sense and Christological focus, the wounded man is humanity, and the Samaritan is Christ.

God himself, who for us is foreign and distant, has set out to take care of his wounded creature. God, though so remote from us, has made himself our neighbor in Jesus Christ. He pours oil and wine into our wounds, a gesture seen as an image of the healing gift of the sacraments, and he brings us to the inn, the Church, in which he arranges our care and also pays a deposit for the cost of that care.

It just so happened as well that our celebrant at mass today was a visiting Comboni missionary who spoke about the missions in Africa. Africa was also a subject of reflection in Benedict's comments on the Parable of the Good Samaritan.

The topical relevance of the parable is evident. When we transpose it into the dimensions of world society, we see how the peoples of Africa, lying robbed and plundered, matter to us. Then we see how deeply they are our neighbors; that our lifestyle, the history in which we are involved, has plundered them and continues to do so. This is true above all in the sense that we have wounded their souls. Instead of giving them God, the God who has come close to us in Christ, which would have integrated and brought to completion all that is precious and great in their own traditions, we have given them the cynicism of a world without God in which all that counts is power and profit, a world that destroys moral standards so that corruption and unscrupulous will to power are taken for granted. And that applies not only to Africa.

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