January 16, 2023

Homily Two for the Twelfth Sunday of Luke (St. Luke of Simferopol)

Homily on the Grateful Samaritan

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on December 13, 1953)

Our Lord Jesus Christ, as you have now heard, having healed ten lepers, commanded them to go and show themselves to the priests, as the law of Moses prescribed. They went and on the way they were all cleansed, all were healed, but only one of them returned to the Lord Jesus Christ and fell at His feet, thanking Him for the healing. And it was a Samaritan. The Lord said with surprise: “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? How did they not return to give glory to God, except for this foreigner?" (Luke 17:17–18).

And turning to the healed Samaritan, He said to him: "Go, your faith has saved you."

As you can see, the Lord Jesus Christ placed this foreigner, this Samaritan, above those Jews who were cleansed along with him.

You also know the Parable of the Merciful Samaritan, you know how a certain man, walking along a dangerous path from Jerusalem to Jericho, where there were many robbers, was wounded by them, robbed and left bleeding.

Two Jews passed by, first a priest, and after him a Levite, approached, looked at the unfortunate wounded man - and went on without helping him in any way. A Samaritan was walking along that road, and seeing the unfortunate man, he poured wine and oil on his wounds, bandaged his wounds and put him on his donkey, and took him to an inn, and there he gave him over to the care of the innkeeper.

Again you see that the Lord in this parable also placed the Samaritan, a foreigner, much higher in moral dignity than the Jewish priest and Levite.

And what does this mean, when the Lord Jesus Christ sent his apostles to preach, He said to them: “Do not go on the path of the pagans and do not enter the city of the Samaritans, but go first to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

As if it were a contradiction: on the one hand, he puts the merciful Samaritan and the grateful Samaritan healed of leprosy higher than the Jews, higher than the people of Israel, and at the same time forbids His apostles to enter the Samaritan cities. What does it mean?

This is what I want to explain to you. At the same time, I want to remind you that the events confirmed what the Lord Jesus Christ commanded to His disciples, confirming that the apostles did not need to enter the Samaritan city.

One day the Lord Jesus was walking with His disciples from Galilee to Jerusalem, and halfway through he wanted to rest in a village in Samaria. He sent two disciples ahead to announce that the Lord was coming and wanted to rest with them, but the Samaritans did not receive Him, because He looked like He was traveling to Jerusalem.

Why not accepted? Because the Jews and the Samaritans were in constant alienation from each other.

The Samaritans did not come from the people of Israel at all, they were settlers from Assyro-Babylonia, sent by King Sennacherib here to replace the Israelites who were taken captive. They settled here, but they were pagans. And then a great misfortune happened to them: a large flock of lions appeared in their land, which tormented and killed both their cattle and themselves. They informed King Sennacherib about this disaster. They called the Israelite priests and asked them why. They answered: because the settlers do not honor the true God, Jehovah, whom we honor. If you want the lions to leave them alone, let them send priests to them and teach them the law of Israel. Sennacherib did just that: he sent priests, they taught the people the law of Moses, and the Samaritans accepted this law, but they did not accept all the sacred books of the Old Testament, but only the Pentateuch of Moses.

That's precisely because they did not fully accept the law with all the books of the Old Testament, and the Israelites were alienated from them, and they themselves were alienated from them.

That is why the Lord Jesus Christ, sending His disciples to preach, said that they should not go to the cities of Samara, but would go "to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."

But don't we read in the fourth chapter of the Gospel of John about the great conversation of the Lord Jesus Christ with the Samaritan woman?

He walked from Jerusalem to Galilee, sat down to rest at the well of Jacob, which was deeply revered by the Samaritans, and which was located not far from the main city of Samaria - Shechem.

A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and the Lord Jesus Christ talked with her for a long time. It was an unusually deep conversation: He revealed to her the greatest truths of the faith and at the same time showed omniscience, which is unusual for a person, for He told everything that had happened in her life.

At the end of the conversation, the Lord Jesus Christ, when the Samaritan woman said to Him: “I know that the Messiah, that is, Christ, will come; when He comes, He will announce everything to us,” and He answered her, “It is I who speak to you.”

It was the first time that the Lord Jesus revealed Himself so directly, revealed Himself as Christ, as the Messiah.

He forbade this earlier to His disciples, He also forbade the demons, who shouted, being cast out from the unfortunate possessed by them: “We know You, who You are, the Holy One of God . ” He forbade them to divulge that He was the Christ.

He did not tell anyone about this among the Jewish people, but here He directly says to a Samaritan woman: “It is I who am talking to you.”

And look what happened next. The woman, amazed at her conversation with the Lord, left her waterpot and ran to Shechem and said to the inhabitants: “Go, see the Man Who told me all that I have done. Isn't He the Christ?"

And the inhabitants of the city of Shechem came in multitudes to see the Lord Jesus. The Gospel does not say what the Lord talked to them about, but in any case we know that he did not work a single miracle before them. And it was enough for the Samaritans to have one conversation with the Lord, one sight of Him, for them to believe in Him as in the Messiah.

They believed and asked Him to come to their city, and He stayed there for two days. He Himself did what He previously forbade His disciples.

"... do not enter the city of Samaria."

And now He Himself entered, and led them after Himself. The Lord Jesus Christ knew the hearts of people. He knew that the Samaritans, not even seeing His miracles, as the inhabitants of Bethsaida, Chorazin, and Capernaum saw them in multitudes, would believe in Him.

He knew what charm His Divine Personality, His words, unheard of by the world, produces on good people.

Let us remember how one day the chief priests and scribes sent their servants to bring Jesus to them, who was preaching in the temple. The servants returned with nothing, and when asked why they didn’t bring Jesus, they answered: “No man ever spoke like this man” (John 7:46).

The Lord Jesus Christ knew that one should not send disciples to the Samaritans ahead of time, that they would not be accepted. He knew that it was necessary to wait for the time, that it was necessary to come to the Samaritans Himself, that they would see and hear Him.

He knew their hearts, knew that their hearts were better and purer than the hearts of many of the people of Israel, like the heart of a Samaritan grateful to Him for healing, like the heart of a merciful Samaritan.

He knew their hearts, the Lord knew that they would believe much more easily than the people of Israel.

Therefore, it was not necessary for the disciples to go to the Samaritans before Himself: He wanted to show the greatness of His work, the unspeakable height of His speeches in a personal conversation with the Samaritans.

And this time, subdued by His words, they believed immediately, believed much more easily and in greater numbers than the Jews.

Well, what conclusion can we draw from this event for ourselves?

Remember the words of Christ addressed to His disciples: "Go and teach all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit."

And His disciples, as you know, after the ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ into heaven, fulfilled His word, fulfilled His command: they carried to all nations, to the pagan nations they carried the preaching of the gospel of Christ.

In the Apostle Luke we read slightly different words of Christ, addressed to the apostles before His ascension: “Go into the whole world, preach the gospel to all creation” - not only to all nations, not only to pagans, but even to all creation.

There was a saint who understood and literally fulfilled this command of Christ - that was Francis of Assisi. He preached the gospel of Christ not only to people, but to all creation: birds flew to him, perched on trees, and for a long, long time he preached to them about the Lord Jesus Christ.

Well, after what you have just heard about the attitude of the Lord Jesus towards the Samaritans, shall we dare treat those who are not yet Christians differently than He?

Shall we really dare to forget the words of Holy Scripture that "in every nation he who does righteousness is pleasing to Him."

If the Lord is pleased, will they not be pleasing to us?!

Shall we dare treat those who do not yet know the Lord Jesus Christ differently?

Are we really going to exalt ourselves with our Christianity over those who have not yet known Christ, but perhaps in the future they will.

Will we forget the words of John the Baptist, addressed to the Jews, who were proud of their descent from Abraham: “Do not think to say to yourselves: 'We have Abraham as our father,' for I tell you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones” (Matt. 3:9).

I lived for many years in Central Asia and knew the Muslims intimately. I know that many of them are extremely pious: they pray five times a day, and, moreover, they do not pray at home, but go to the mosque five times a day.

I saw a young Muslim sitting next to me in prison, who prayed for hours, prayed even longer than I did.

I saw and knew deeply pious Jews who honor God.

Well, shall we really dare to exalt ourselves above them, shall we really forget that in every nation those who fear God, do righteousness, do goodness, are pleasing to Him?

And they will please me, and you must be pleased, if Christ is pleased. But does it follow from this that we should treat them as brothers in our faith in Christ? No, in no way: we must treat them with love and respect, but also remember the word that the Lord said before His ascension: “... whoever has faith and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not have faith will be condemned.”

This must be remembered, and remember the great tenth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, which tells how God Himself, through His angel, commanded the Apostle Peter to go to a distant city to the pagan centurion Cornelius, who was pleasing to God, because he did the truth, did works of mercy and deeply honored God, but was a pagan and did not know Christ.

The Lord commanded Peter to go and teach him the law of Christ, for this was exactly what the centurion Cornelius lacked, for with all his piety he could not be saved without being baptized in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Peter went according to the command of the Lord and taught them all the teachings of Christ and baptized them all.

So it would be necessary that all good and pious people who do not lead to Christ - from Muslims, from Jews and from Buddhists - to turn to Christ.

And if it happened, they would be the dearest brothers for us, but now only people worthy of respect who should be treated with love, and not exalted before them.

I will tell you the words of Paul, which you need to firmly remember: “According to the grace given to me, I say to each of you: do not think more about yourself than you should think, but think modestly, according to the measure of faith that God has given to each” (Romans 12:3).

Remember this, and I will end my speech with this. I say: do not be arrogant, do not think of yourself more than how much you need to think, than to think correctly. Think that although you are Christians, you are still bad Christians, constantly offending Christ with your sins, breaking the commandments of Christ.

Consider yourself worse than everyone, below everyone. Do not exalt yourself over those who, although they do not know Christ, are pleasing to God. Amen.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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