Memorial of Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman
Almost without exception, what follows the first reading in our liturgy is a responsorial psalm. Today, however, what is used is not a psalm, but the prayer which Jonah prays while in the belly of the fish. The response which we all hear and then repeat gives us an ancient and profitable way to understand what comes next in the Gospel. We pray, “You will rescue my life from the pit, O Lord.” (Jon 2:7) As we repeat these words, we are invited to make our own the prayer of one in need, one whose hope of rescue is to be found in the Lord. How does this help us contemplate anew the parable of the Good Samaritan?
From the earliest records of Christian commentary on this parable going back to the homilies of Origen (d. 253), the parable has been interpreted as a reflection on Christ’s saving action. While often today we primarily think about how we ourselves might be the Good Samaritan, early Christians began their reflections on the parable by praising Christ as their Good Samaritan. We, too, can imagine ourselves as this man in need, left wounded by the robbers, passed by others, approached by the kind stranger. We, too, can imagine the caring sting of the wine poured upon the wounds, the merciful soothing oil used by the stranger, and finally the place of care in which He has placed us until He returns. It was thorough meditation on this parable thus understood that contributed to the heroic charity for which Christianity has been known since its beginnings. Once we have contemplated in specific detail Christ’s mercy in our lives, then we can understand what it means to “Go and do likewise.” (Lk 10:37) Then, too, our example may bear good fruit in the souls of our age who like the soul of Bl. John Henry Newman, even 12 years before his conversion (celebrated today), yearn to experience such mercy in the Inn Christ has set up for our cure.