Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard first of all from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in Galatia in Asia Minor, addressing them on the matter of the true Gospel and revelations of our Lord. Then, we also heard from our Gospel passage today, the well-known parable of the Good Samaritan, in which a Samaritan helped a Jew who was wounded, while a priest and a Levite passed by without helping.
In our first reading today, we heard of the frustrations shared by St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in Galatia regarding how many among them followed the false teachings and different doctrines held by those who turned the true teachings of the faith to suit their own purposes. Even from this very early time in the history of the Church, there had been division and confusion sowed by the devil and all of those opposed to the good works of God, trying to mislead the faithful to the wrong paths.
That was why St. Paul spoke sternly against all those who misinterpreted the Gospels and the Scriptures, the words of God and His truth for their own purposes, and sowed divisions and confusions among the Christian communities. He said that the truth of God is unchanging and also should have been faithfully kept as it was revealed, and anyone who preached otherwise, had committed sin against God and against His people. St. Paul warned the people in such a way to keep themselves guarded against those who would claim that the Lord had spoken to them and reveal to them a new truth that is contrary to what the Lord had revealed through His Church.
This is truly prescient as in time, many people came to claim to have knowledge of a better truth, or used the truth to mislead the people, leading to heresies that divided the Church and caused confusion among the faithful. All these happened long after St. Paul had encountered the same troubles during his missionary efforts and journeys. But despite all of these, because of the efforts and reminders that St. Paul mentioned, the Church had remained faithful to the truth of Christ, and preserved the same truth despite all the heresies and divisions that had occurred in the past two millennia.
And part of this truth is what is espoused in our Gospel passage today, in the well-known parable of the Good Samaritan. In that parable, the Lord used it to highlight His points, especially to the teacher of the Law and others present at the time who were trying to test Him and placed upon Him the question, ‘Who is my neighbour?’ when the Lord reminded them that the Law of God is about loving God with all of one’s heart and also loving one another, our fellow neighbours.
The Lord used the example of a Samaritan, as Samaritans at the time were often reviled and hated by the people in Judea, especially by the religious establishment and the elites of the society. The Samaritans were seen as pagans and foreigners, as wicked people who have strayed away from the teachings and Law of God. The Samaritans themselves were in fact descended from the people who once inhabited the land of Israel, with the people who were brought in by the Assyrians and others to inhabit the land after many of the Israelites of the northern kingdom were brought to exile in Assyria and other lands.
As such, they were deemed as impure, as foreigners, and as those who were unworthy of God. And as a result, they were shunned and tensions often existed between the Samaritans and the Jews, with both of them disagreeing on the matter of worship of God. But as the parable of the Lord showed, it served to dispel the notion that the Samaritans were worse as human beings, and in fact, from the example of the Good Samaritan, it showed that while the priest and Levite, themselves highly respected within the Jewish community, had ignored the plight of the man beset by robbers, the Samaritan stooped down to help, and not only help, but even went the extra mile in helping him.
The victim who was a Jew, was abandoned by his own people, and worse still, by those who were highly respected and deemed within the community as righteous and pious. Instead, it was a Samaritan, often hated and shunned, who was there to help, to reach out to the victim, and cared for him with extra efforts, to make sure that he recovered completely, without regards for his own inconvenience, and also without regards or considerations or worries about helping a Jew, something that both the Jews and Samaritans were then loath doing, as neither side wanted anything to do with the other.
This, brothers and sisters in Christ, is what the Lord wanted to remind us as His truth, the teachings of His love, that He wants us all to embrace and accept, and we should embrace the fact that every one of us are beloved by God, no matter what we are, where we came from, what our background and origin is, or what group we belong to, all of us are equally beloved by God. And we must not look down on others or think that others do not deserve God’s love or not worthy of Him.
The Good Samaritan story is both a story that breaks prejudices and biases, as well as a story that highlights to us the calling as Christians to reach out in love to others, especially those who are suffering and in need of help. We should not be like the priest and the Levite, who just passed by without even offering any help at all, or being concerned with the well-being of the man. As Christians we must always be filled with compassion and love for one another, and even to those who despise us and hate us.
That is why, linking to what we have heard in our first reading today, should anyone or any teachings by some state that we must be discriminatory or act in ways that highlight our differences from our fellow men, especially against those who have not believed in God, or those who have lapsed from their faith, these are not true teachings of Christ. Throughout history, there had been those who deemed themselves as being more righteous and more worthy of God, and looking down on those whom they deemed to be inferior or different from them. And these are those who have followed the wrong path and even are misleading the faithful.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, we should not entertain these false ideas and attitudes that are not in accordance to God’s ways and teachings. And today, we also celebrate the feast of St. Mary Faustina Kowalska, a Polish nun who was most remembered for her visions of the Divine Mercy of God, from which stemmed the now very popular Devotion to the Divine Mercy.
St. Faustina Kowalska initially faced a lot of opposition for her visions and writings, and it took many, many decades before her writings and experiences as genuine and integral after extensive and intensive research to make sure that they are in accordance to the Church teachings, and not misleading the faithful as what some other false visionaries and teachers had done.
Now, the Devotion to the Divine Mercy of God became a very important reminder of God’s love and mercy, which He has showed us without prejudice or bias just as the Good Samaritan had done. God is ever patient and merciful, and He is calling on all of us to be more Christ-like in our lives and way of life. We can be inspired by St. Faustina’s faith and perseverance through all of these.
Let us all embrace wholeheartedly God’s calling for us to be faithful in life, to be compassionate towards those who are in need, and especially during these difficult times, these challenging moments, let us all spend time and effort to care for those who are not as fortunate as we are. Let us all dedicate ourselves anew, with a new commitment to love and serve the Lord with ever greater devotion from now on. May God bless us all, in our every good efforts and endeavours, now and forevermore. Amen.