Friday, March 18, 2011

Lent and Matthew the Poor : Finding Comfort in the Good Samaritan

"The penitent is described by Christ as a stranger who has fallen into the hands of robbers in a foreign country. They strip him of his clothes, rob him, humiliate him, wound him, and leave him more dead than alive. The penitent is like a man stripped of the garment of his honor by the devil, whose will has therefore been stripped naked and whose members have been defiled. The devil robs him of his treasure--the treasure being the sanity of the mind, the light of insight, and the action of conscience--his person being humiliated, his fall disclosed, and his will shattered. Last of all, he wounds him deeply with lust to draw off his life quickly. At the end he leaves him a dead corpse unable to live! It is thus that the good Samaritan finds no occasion to ask questions or time to reproach, but immediately gathers him in his arms.

"The good Samaritan in the parable (Lk. 10.30-37) is Christ, and our interpretation hits the mark exactly, for He does not upbraid him or ask him to perform any action, but comes to him personally where he fell and stoops over him with His affection, washes and dresses his wound by His own wound, stops his bleeding by His own bleeding, and pours upon him the oil of His compassion and of His life, carrying him on the arms of His mercy, offering him a ride to the inn of His Church, asking His angels to serve him, and expending His grace on him till he recovers.

"Such is the penitent, a wretched man that has fallen on the way after being attacked by the oppression of man and the spite of the devil, and no longer able to do anything. After his strength has been drawn off, he finds room at the house of the Benign, room in His heart, room between His arms, on His beasts of burden, and in His Kingdom."

--Abouna Matta al-Meskeen (Matthew the Poor), "Repentance," Communion of Love (98)

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