A true Christian must be willing to get his hands dirty in the service of others. That was the essence of the message Pope Francis delivered in his October 8, 2018, homily during Mass at Casa Santa Marta in the Vatican and reported in Vatican News.
Citing the gospel for the day, the parable of the Good Samaritan from Luke’s 10th chapter, the Holy Father addressed the question, “who is my neighbor?” In the parable, brigands beat a man and leave him bleeding by the side of the road. A priest and a Levite – a man of the law – pass by and decide they are not called to help.
But then a Samaritan came along, a man “who was a sinner, one excommunicated by the people of Israel,” Francis said – but one who had compassion. He didn’t avoid helping the dirty, bloodied person even though doing so would certainly require him to get his hands dirty.
“He came close to him – he got off his donkey – he tied his wounds, pouring oil and wine,” the Pope recalled. “Then he loaded him on his mount, took him to a hotel and he took care of him”. He did not say: “But, I’ll leave him here, call the doctors who’ll come. I’m leaving, I’ve done my part.” No. “He took care”, saying: “Now you are mine, not for a possession, but to serve you”.
Of course, the Good Samaritan left the wounded man with the innkeeper, promising to pay for his care on his return trip. The Pope noted how God was surprising the innkeeper, who saw a pagan bring a man for care and make a promise to pay for what was due. The innkeeper accepts his role as caregiver and doesn’t doubt he will be compensated.
The Pope’s question to the congregation present – and to all – was whether we would be willing to accept God’s surprises in our lives. Do we follow the rules and attend Mass on Sunday, but also accept the care of our brother as the Samaritan did?
The Holy Father suggested that each of us is the man there, wounded, and the Samaritan is Jesus, who healed our wounds. He came near to us and died for us. And he said to his Church: “But if you need more, you pay, I will come back and I will pay”.