A Reflection on Jesus the “Samaritan”

From the Gospel of John:

Then they said to Him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father–God.”

Jesus as the SamaritanTherefore Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would have loved Me, for I came forth and have come from God; nor have I come from Myself, but He sent Me.  Why do you not understand what I say? Because you are unable to hear My word.  You are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you desire to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has not stood in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar, and the father of lies. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me.   Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me?  He who is of God hears God’s words; therefore you do not hear them, because you are not of God.”

Then the Jews answered and said to Him, “Do we not say well that You are a Samaritan, and You have a demon?”

Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon; but I honor My Father, and you dishonor Me.  And I do not seek My own glory; there is One who seeks it and who judges.  Most assuredly I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall by no means experience death.” (8:41-51, MKJV)

From Sermon 171.2 of the blessed Augustine:

“In this Samaritan the Lord Jesus Christ wanted us to understand himself. ‘Samaritan’ you see, means ‘guardian.’  . . .  He could have answered, ‘I am not a Samaritan, and I do not have a devil.’ What he did answer was ‘It is not I who have a devil.’ What he answered, he refuted; what he kept quiet about, he confirmed. He denied he had a devil, knowing himself to be the expeller of devils; he did not deny that he was the guardian of the weak.”

Our Lord was especially hard on those who claimed to know God and do His will, but through their actions and attitudes, revealed only their own hubris. Jesus never denied the needy. Rather, he sacrificed himself over and over to heal, to feed, to comfort, and to save.

Are we not all needy?  The more I grow in Christ, the more my hubris grows, and therefore my need increases.

Will Christ ever deny us in our need? He did not deny that he was brother to the outcast and the despised. Those He did deny during His earthly sojourn were those who denied Him and who denied mercy and comfort to His people, His “sheep.”

The prayer of a servant:

Father God, what a struggle it is to sacrifice myself! I cling to my selfish ambitions, my indulgences, and my prejudices like a man shipwrecked clings to his float.  I have yet to share my own energies hand-in-hand with those in most need. Forgive me when I boast and prattle, failing to serve you and your beloved with sweat and true sacrifice. Help me to cooperate with Your grace in becoming the Good Samaritan as did Jesus.

In the name of Jesus Christ, grant me, Father God, your Holy Spirit.  Amen.

First of Two Reflections on the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 13, Verses 14-16

Our Lord said:

 “And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah which said, “By hearing you shall hear and shall not understand; and seeing you shall see and shall not perceive;  for this people’s heart has become gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and they have closed their eyes, lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.” But blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear.”

Matthew recorded these sayings in Greek. They recount the words of a man whose native tongue was Aramaic and who himself was quoting a writer who used Hebrew. This Babel of language complicates things, but also enriches.

Lent is the time to renew our vigilance over our hearts, to sharpen our sight, and reinvigorate our hearing. One way to do this is to depart for a while from the translation of the Bible that our hand most often falls to. English has developed to the point that most words have the singular beauty of an individual red rose, clear and crisp. Other languages, as do the Hebrew of the Old Testament and the Greek of the New Testament, more often resemble a single branch of an ancient azalea. While the impression of the branch may be white or pink, a closer look reveals shadings in tint, streaks of color, and a richness in vibrancy that defies easy description.

Translations of the Bible into English use the precision of a single stem to describe the swirls of color within the original words. Ask your priest or a trusted elder to recommend a translation unfamiliar to you. Read it through Lent and beyond if you wish, comparing it with your old favorite. Hear the words fresh, as if for the first time, and pray to God for the grace to ever be more fully converted.

From a prayer of St. Antioch:

O Lord, enlighten my mind with the understanding of Your Holy Gospel. Enlighten my heart with the purity of Your Word. Enlighten my body with Your passionless Passion. Keep my thoughts in Your humility. Amen.Christ the True Vine