Upon encountering the man beaten by robbers, the Good Samaritan “poured oil and wine over his wounds.” Olive oil served as a soothing salve while the wine cleansed and disinfected.
We often run into people who are hurting, perhaps not so much physically as emotionally and spiritually. Like me, you probably want to help that person – but wonder if you have what he really needs, especially if he is wounded spiritually. What oil and wine do we have to soothe those wounds?
The ultimate source of spiritual healing is Jesus. Our problem as Catholics is that we are not skilled at sharing our faith with others, leading them to a relationship with Jesus. We do not feel comfortable asking questions like, “Have you accepted Jesus as your personal savior?” and “If you died tonight, do you know where you will spend eternity?”
I am not saying we should adopt that style. I know I would have a difficult time doing it. But there are other ways we can evangelize and thus help people who feel empty, lost or bitter. The culture we live in can give us opportunities if we take the time to prepare ourselves. This is true even regarding things which we might turn away from because they appear negative or anti-Christian.
It is interesting for example that during clergy sex abuse scandal, we had more converts than ever. I think part of the reason is that the scandal gave faithful Catholics an opening to explain why, in spite of such horrible things, they continue to remain in the Church – in other words, that the Church has a divine as well as all too human element.
I’d like to mention another example, not because it is the biggest thing going on in the world, but because it relates to an event at our parish this Monday. Many of you have heard of the popular novel The DaVinci Code. It is a fast paced murder mystery whose hero is a college professor. According to the story, he somehow possesses esoteric knowledge which few others have heard about and throughout the novel he gives lectures on Christian origins. The lectures come down to this: that the Catholic Church covered up the truth about Jesus and the Bible.
A lot of Catholics have reacted defensively, which is understandable since the thesis of the book is quite outrageous. However, instead of being defensive, what we should do is use this as an opportunity to explain to others why we believe that the Bible is God’s Word, that Jesus is truly God and that he founded the Catholic Church. When we run into someone who attacks the Catholic Church (maybe someone right in our own family) we should not immediately see him as an opponent to debate, but try to see him in light of today's parable - he might be more like the man beaten by robbers who needs soothing and healing.
To help such a person we need to be carrying with us some kind of “oil and wine.” In other words, we have to do the hard work of trying to educate ourselves in the faith. Regarding The DaVinci Code I have put a helpful pamphlet in our book rack. I heard about a guy who carries them in his briefcase and gives a copy to anyone he runs into who is reading the book or who expresses an interest in it. Also there are indepth books like DeCoding Davinci by Amy Welborn and The Da Vinci Hoax by Carl Olson and Sandra Miesel. By reading them you can give yourself a short course in Christian origins. It will provide you with some “oil and wine” you can use to help others.
Tomorrow I have invited a priest to give a presentation on The DaVinci Code - not just any priest, but an Opus Dei priest! They are featured in the novel as a sinister, secret society within the Catholic Church. I thought you would enjoy the opportunity to meet one of them in person – and hear his explanation. If you have any friends or family members who have mentioned the DaVinci Code, invite them. For those interested we will have confessions at 5 p.m. and Mass at 6 in our Church - and at 7 p.m. a presentation in the parish hall. I guarantee you it will be a fascinating evening – and in the process you will receive some “oil and wine” which you can use to help friends and members of your own family.
From Archives (15th Sunday, Year C):
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Bulletin (New Bookkeeping System, Brief Argument Against DaVinci Code, Respect Life Committee - Letter to Other Christian Pastors)
Taking Back the Party (Reflections of a young, Catholic, pro-life Democrat)
From Bill Donohue:
Senator Patrick Leahy jumped down the throat of Vice President Dick Cheney this week for allegedly being tagged an anti-Catholic by some Republicans; the vice president then denounced Leahy with an obscenity.
Stem Cell News That Isn't Fit For Print
More on Junk Science
Teachers' Union Downplays Study on Child Sexual Abuse in Public Schools
Comparison with Clergy Scandal
Dom: "I expect to see lawsuits filed against school systems, charges of racketerring and collusion, long newspaper series..."
Robert Reich: "The Real Enemies are Christianity and Dogma"
Seattle's Liberal Larry explains the advantages of Kerry's Public Education Plan
Bulletin (St. Mary's Parish)
My bulletin column
St. Mary of the Valley Album
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