Life & Soul

The Good Samaritan reveals the meaning of baptism

The Good Samaritan, by the Flemish painter Jacob Jordaens (1593-1678)

Fifteenth Sunday of the Year
Deut 30:10-14; Col 1:15-20; Lk 10:25-37 (Year C)

“Christ Jesus is the image of the unseen God and the firstborn of all creation, for in him were created all things in heaven and on earth, everything visible and invisible.”

These verses, cited in the Letter to the Colossians, have been identified as a hymn in common use from the earliest times. Quite possibly this hymn was used in the celebration of baptism.

As the hymn unfolds, we glimpse the wonder of a Risen Lord who makes us one with himself, calling us to a peace that embraces the whole of creation. “Before anything was created, he existed, and he holds all things in unity.”

The healing grace given in baptism is a grace that embraces the whole of creation. “God wanted all perfection to be found in him and all things to be reconciled through him and for him, everything in heaven and everything on earth, when he made peace by his death on the Cross.”

This hymn, written long before the onset of the Industrial Revolution and its consequences for our environment, would seem to indicate that by baptism we are called to share a peace whose healing extends to creation itself. Only in this stewardship can we fully rejoice as the children of God, the works of his hand, at one with the wonders of his Creation.

The Gospel takes us from the cosmic dimensions of this wonderful hymn to the present moment. How are we to respond, to live in this Christ who has reconciled all things to himself? Long ago Jesus faced the same question: “Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

The ensuing dialogue led to the heart of the New Testament as the fulfilment of the Old. “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul,
with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself.”

The beauty of this calling is lived out in each and every encounter of our lives. The parable of the Good Samaritan reveals that we are more than capable of ignoring what stands before us. Only the Samaritan lived out his love for God in his embrace of an abandoned and wounded stranger.

May the Lord open our eyes to the wounds of those we meet, and beyond this, to the wounds inflicted on an environment called to reflect the beauty of his Creation.