ON THE CHARITABLE SAMARITAN. LUKE x.
Consider first, that our Lord, to teach us that general charity which we owe to the whole world, without exception or distinction of nation or opinion, proposes himself to us in this parable, as the perfect pattern of this charity, in the person of a Samaritan, a people differing both in nation and religion from the Jews. ‘A certain man,’ saith he, ‘went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, who also stripped him, and having wounded him went away, leaving him half dead. And it chanced that a certain priest went down the same way, and seeing him, he passed by. In like manner also a Levite, when he was near the place, and saw him, passed by. But a certain Samaritan, being on his journey, came near him; and seeing him, was moved with compassion; and going up to him, bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine; and setting him upon his own beast, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And the next day he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said: take care of him: and whatsoever thou shalt spend over and above, I at my return, will repay thee.’ See here, my soul, in this charitable Samaritan, an image of what thy Lord has done for thee, and go thou, as he tells thee in the application of the parable, and do in like manner; that is, show thou the like mercy and charity to thy neighbours, as Christ has shown to thee. This will be indeed a charity both to them and to thyself; since it will bring thee to possess eternal life, v. 25. Yes, my soul, ‘this do, and thou shalt live,’ v. 28.
Consider 2ndly, in this parable the wretched condition into which man has fallen by sin. Going down from Jerusalem, which is interpreted the vision of peace, to Jericho, which signifies the moon (that is, turning his back to his God, and to all true peace, to seek a false happiness in the forbidden fruit of worldly enjoyments, which are continually changing like the moon.) he fell among robbers, that is he fell into the hands of wicked spirits, and became their prey. He was stripped by them of all the gifts of grace, with which he had been adorned by his creator, and was grievously wounded in all his powers and faculties. His understanding was darkened with ignorance and error in his notions of good and evil, and his will perverted with malice in the preferring evil before good: all his passions were let loose upon him, having lost their bridle of original justice, and his whole soul was in a strange disorder – weak beyond expression to everything that is good, and violently bent upon evil. thus he lay half dead; his better part, viz., the soul, being dead indeed by the loss of its true life, the grace of God; and both the soul and body being condemned by divine justice to a second and eternal death; and in this state he was like to remain, being utterly incapable of himself of making one step towards his deliverance, and so must have inevitably perished to eternity, had not this charitable Samaritan come down from heaven to his relief. O the dismal consequences of sin! O the infinite goodness of God! And shalt not thou, my soul – who hast had the experience both of the one and of the other – from henceforth at least, dread, detest, and fly with all thy power from that worst of evils, sin, and embrace henceforward, with all thy affections, this sovereign goodness of thy God?
Consider 3rdly, by descending to particulars, what his infinite goodness has done for lost man, in sending down his only Son to be our pious Samaritan, to deliver us from all our evils, and to impart all good to ours souls. Alas! the priest and the Levite passed us by, and left us languishing under our wounds and miseries. For the law and its ministers were not able to heal or to relieve us. but our good Samaritan had compassion on us; his tender mercies brought him down form his throne of glory to our assistance. He has bound up our wounds, by suffering himself to be wounded for our iniquities; that by his stripes we might be healed. He has applied to our wounded souls the heavenly medicines of his sacraments, signified by the wine and oil. He has set us upon his own beast, by bearing our sins himself in his own body upon the tree of the cross. He has brought us to the blessed inn of his holy church, where all graces and means of salvation are abundantly furnished to all that ask and seek for them. He has given the charge of our souls to the keepers of this inn, that is to his apostles and their successors, the pastors of this his holy church, divinely commissioned and assisted by him; and he has promised them a most ample reward for all eternity, to repay them for the care they shall take of us. O what return shall we make to our Lord for all this mercy, and all this love he has thus shown to us! O, he desires no other return, but that we should love him, and show mercy to one another.
Conclude to make him this return of love; but see it be with thy whole heart; for he will not accept of a love that allows of any creature to stand in competition with him. See also thou never forget that there is no loving him without a sincere disposition of showing mercy to thy neighbours for his sake, and by his great example.