Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year C
[Deuteronomy 30:10-14; Psalm 69; Colossians 1:15-20; Luke 10:25-37]
You may be aware that on Wednesday of this past week the first group of tickets to the papal mass at Commonwealth Stadium was released. More releases are to come, so stay tuned. The tickets, of course, are free of charge. You may also have heard in the news that some of the tickets already acquired have appeared on the Internet for sale. As we responded in our media advisory, “It is sad and troubling that anyone would try to resell free tickets for an event with Pope Francis as part of his pilgrimage of healing, reconciliation and hope.” I will go further. To my mind this is a form of robbery. Unscrupulous persons, to their own personal profit, are seeking to rob people of the opportunity to participate freely in a papal mass. So, please, if you come across these, don’t buy them. They may well not be legitimate.
When this was brought to my attention, I learned how sophisticated this kind of robbery has become in the Internet age. It is quite possible that things called “bots” were responsible for the robbery. Now, I have no idea what “bots” are, so I consulted a ten-year old and found out that they are something computer programmed to circulate within the web and do all sorts of different things, like entering ticketing websites to snatch up tickets immediately upon release and re-sell them.
Of course, though these methods of robbery may be relatively new, the act is not. Robbery has always been with us. In fact, in the Gospel, Jesus is telling a parable based on a robbery. “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers…” It is the familiar and well-loved parable of the Good Samaritan. From its earliest days, the Church has seen in the robbed man an image of humanity, violated and left half-dead by the evils perpetrated against it by sin, that pernicious spiritual “bot” that circulates within the world attacking both heart and mind. The Good Samaritan represents Christ himself, who has come to heal us by the balm of mercy and restore us to true life. So, the parable, though ancient, speaks directly to us now, inviting us to face the scourge of the robberies that continue to inflict the human race, that we might turn to Christ for the healing and restoration that only he can give.
One need ponder this for only a moment in order to realize that robbery abounds. I think, for example, of people stripped of their dignity by human trafficking, robbed of life by abortion, or deprived of peace by aggression. We might “fall into the hands of robbers” by simply turning on the television or surfing the web, where messages and images inimical to the Gospel attack the mind, rob it of truth, and leave many people wounded on the wayside of life. It is possible, too, that we might be robbing ourselves of joy by trusting more in our own limited powers of reason than in the infinite wisdom of Christ. Robbery, in its many forms, is everywhere, and a broken and bruised humanity in need of healing is the result.
“But a Samaritan while travelling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity.” This is Jesus Christ. Our Lord does not “pass by on the other side”; rather he draws very near in order to bind up our wounds as only he can. This he did above all by his death and resurrection, which brought to an end the power of Satan, the greatest thief of all. Jesus continues to draw near through his Church. Through the grace of the sacraments, he anoints us with his ointment of mercy. By the charitable acts of his disciples, he bandages humanity with his own compassion.
This means that, as members of his Church, we, like, Jesus must not permit ourselves to “pass by on the other side” whenever we come across anyone beaten up by the many forms of robbery that mark our day. Ironically, in doing so we steal from ourselves the opportunity to act in accord with our Christian dignity and vocation, and thus deprive ourselves of an occasion to grow in holiness of life. Rather, our response to suffering is shaped by the command of the Lord to “go and do likewise” by drawing near to those who are suffering and offering them the same love of Christ by which our own wounds have been healed.
Jesus, the Good Samaritan, draws close to us and is truly present in every celebration of the Eucharist with the power of his Cross. Here we receive healing of our own wounds, so that, wherever the pernicious “malware” of evil is infecting souls and destroying lives, the grace of this sacrament will move in and through our acts of charity to overcome its effects and restore the wounded to hope and wholeness.
Most Reverend Richard W. Smith
St. Joseph’s Basilica
July 10th, 2022