12th Sunday after Pentecost 31.8.14 Vulnerability
On Friday we recalled the Beheading of St John the Baptist. It is still going on today, in the Middle East. (We have not made much progress!)
To be Christian requires that we identify with Christ. He allowed Himself to be put to death.
He made Himself vulnerable to the hatred of men (and the devil).
We must be vulnerable with Him. It may happen to us one day that we are put to death for our faith. If which case we should not value earthly life higher than our allegiance with Christ. We would rather be united with Him than try to live longer here on earth.
We make ourselves vulnerable for His sake - to death, to ridicule and mockery, to whatever comes.
It may occur to us we would like an easier religion. Many have abandoned faith in Christ for just that reason. They want an easier life. But they will regret their choice sooner or later.
To identify with Christ, with all its perils, is still the best investment we can make. To be with Him is the best place to be in a crisis (cf Storm at sea. Jesus is in the boat with us Mt 8, 24-27).
In our weakness is His strength. If we are with Him we can be sure His power and goodness will prevail, even if it means temporary or apparent loss for us.
But why did Our Lord allow Himself to be mocked and crucified? Our Lord is identified with the Good Samaritan in today’s parable.
He came to help us, the victims of robbery, insofar as the devil has robbed us of our innocence.
Our Lord helped people at different levels.
At the physical level He healed their sickness, fed them with bread, saved them from danger.
At a deeper level He forgave sin. He heals us by His mercy, and the sacraments - represented by the oil and wine applied to the wounds.
Once rescued we will live free from sin. If we do happen to sin again we can be rescued again (Sacrament of Penance) but gradually we learn not to let the robbers (devils) get the better of us.
At a deeper level again He made of His body a perfect sacrifice for sin, so that all sin could be forgiven (wherever there was true contrition).
And then He calls those He has healed to imitate Him in His suffering. The greatest healing is to learn to love as Our Lord loved.
This leads to the fact that we must also be Good Samaritans, helping other victims.
This means practical help of which there are many forms, and we pitch in with that in whatever way we can.
But it also means helping by conveying the spiritual presence of Christ.
This is where the suffering, or willingness to suffer, is necessary.
The greatest need our neighbours face is not physical but spiritual.
If we are to love our neighbours we must be prepared to risk a certain amount of suffering on our part. It is one thing to give a few dollars to a poor man. But would I suffer for him; would I die for him? Our Lord would, and did. He will help us to grow to the point that we would do the same.
When we have reached such a point we have been rescued twice – first, raised from our own degradation; and then enabled to help rescue others.
We thank Our Lord, the Good Samaritan, for both stages of the rescue - both privileges that we did not deserve. Let us be as worthy as we can of His trust.