instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

It's always the quiet ones you need to watch

I've been meaning to bask in the reflected wisdom of this post at Flos Carmeli, which quotes a fellow paraphrasing a reflection on the parable of the Good Samaritan and the Carmelite Rule:
The Carmelite is the Innkeeper and Christ has come bringing the sick and the wounded asking that they be cared for--that everything possible be done to help.
The parable has a large cast: the victim; the robbers; the priest; the Levite; the Samaritan; the innkeeper. And everyone in the cast does something, except the innkeeper. The parable ends with the Samaritan saying to him, "Take care of him. If you spend more than what I have given you, I shall repay you on my way back."

Jesus told the parable in answer to the question, "Who is my neighbor?," which is certainly a question we still ask today. But Christians should also recognize in the final words of the parable a promise of Christ to His disciples: "I shall repay you on my way back."

If we spend only what we have been given -- and, to avoid any Pelagian implications that we can do good without God's help, let's understand this as "if we fulfill only the demands of justice" -- then there will be nothing to repay when Christ returns. But we are to continue to work of the Samaritan among our neighbors. This work, spurred by compassion, is to approach, to anoint, to bear, and to care for, without concern for cost.

The Samaritan proposes to the innkeeper that he do this for the victim. He doesn't force him, he merely calls him to act with justice, and assures him he will be repaid for any further acts of charity he freely engages in.