Pope’s Monday homily on the good Samaritan: “A zealous priest wearing a cassock goes on his way to say Mass…”

Today at Mass in St. Martha’s Guesthouse: Pope Francis recalled the parable recounted in the Gospel in which there is a half-dead man lying in the road. A priest walks by – a zealous priest wearing a cassock and on his way to say Mass. The priest looks at the man and says to himself “I will be late for Mass” and goes on his way.  Pope Francis said, the priest was on time for Mass and the faithful were happy.

Pope Francis pointed out that it can happen that Christians, Catholics, priests, Bishops and even the Pope sometimes turn away from God!


  1. This is why priests should always wear cassocks. A modern priest in civilian clothes on the way to swinging folk Mass would just as (or more) likely pass the same half-dead guy, but without all the opprobrium.

    1. @Joe Bonesto – comment #1:

      Yes, Joe, you’ve understood the Pope’s message, and Jesus’ parable, perfectly.
      It’s all about the cassock, not the half-dead man.

      1. Well, Chris, it was significant in the original not only that the rescuer was a Samaritan, but that the passersby were a priest and a Levite (unless you believe our Lord wasted words). Why do suppose that was so?

        In the Pope’s case he took care to note that the priest was wearing a cassock. Nor do I believe that Pope Francis wastes words, though he is perhaps a little more careless with them than was Christ.

        As to not understanding, well, there are meanings and there are deeper meanings. I’m sure I’m not the only one not to have the parable of the Good Samaritan sussed right down the the bottom.

      2. @Chris Grady – comment #2:

        Yes, Joe, you’ve understood the Pope’s message, and Jesus’ parable, perfectly.
        It’s all about the cassock, not the half-dead man.

      3. See, the thing is, Chris, Jesus’ parable wasn’t about the hdm either–he could have been a poor widow or anything else that makes demands on our charity. The lesson was about the Levite and Priest who He described so as to put them in the “US” category making them the bad example in the story, and about the Samaritan the “THEM” category who ends up being the good example. This makes us look at ourselves critically.

        Now Pope Francis comes along and in comment after comment he seems to put the traditional Catholic in the “THEM” category. The message to his progressive audience once again is, “thank God we’re not like those awful self-righteous traditionalists.”

        (funny it never works when I try to “Reply” to one of Chris’s comments)

      4. @Joe Bonesto – comment #9:

        Now Pope Francis comes along and in comment after comment he seems to put the traditional Catholic in the “THEM” category.

        Seriously? How?

      5. @Elisabeth Ahn – comment #11:

        Well, here’s an example:
        …the decision of Pope Benedict [to allow a wider use of the Tridentine Mass] was … motivated by the desire to help people who have this sensitivity. What is worrying, though, is the risk of the ideologization of the Vetus Ordo, its exploitation.

        This pretty clearly separates, belittles and casts a pall of suspicion (how slight? I dunno) on those of the faithful who chose to obey our Lord’s first great commandment in the sublime manner provided by the Extraordinary Form of the Mass and to reap it’s great benefits.

      6. @Joe Bonesto – comment #15:

        So you are actually interpreting the pope’s cautioning against the risk of ideologization and exploitation of the Vetus Ordo as his “clearly separating, belittling and casting suspicion” on those who prefer the EF?

        Sorry but that sounds wildly far-fetched.

        ETA: In fact, just today, during his general audience, the pope talked about the beauty of diversity in the Church, and how the Holy Spirit melds such diversity into harmony.

      7. @Elisabeth Ahn – comment #17:
        Yes, of course. You can designate something an “other” without making an enemy of it. It’s not fetched at all, let alone far. The clear import of the words I quoted separate the speaker of them from the sensitive souls who like the old Mass.

      8. @Joe Bonesto – comment #9:

        Joe, I’m not quite sure Pope Francis has EVER (let alone “in comment after comment”) spoken about “the traditional Catholic” but if you’ve got examples you’re welcome to share them.

        I’m sorry that you see the poor as people who “make demands on our charity.” I’m sure they don’t mean to be so demanding.

        As a priest and bishop in the real world, especially in the survival world of Latin America, Pope Francis saw the Catholic community being built up and the Gospel being lived by real people hearing the Word and celebrating the Eucharist in their own language in a rite they could understand – not by a bunch of people dressing up and playing Church as they imagine it had been done in the 1950s and calling themselves “traditional Catholics” on the strength of their own imaginings.

        Here is an excerpt from Benedict XV’s 1914 Encyclical AD BEATISSIMI APOSTOLORUM which you might find helpful:

        24. It is, moreover, Our will that Catholics should abstain from certain appellations which have recently been brought into use to distinguish one group of Catholics from another. They are to be avoided not only as “profane novelties of words,” out of harmony with both truth and justice, but also because they give rise to great trouble and confusion among Catholics. Such is the nature of Catholicism that it does not admit of more or less, but must be held as a whole or as a whole rejected: “This is the Catholic faith, which unless a man believe faithfully and firmly; he cannot be saved” (Athanas. Creed). There is no need of adding any qualifying terms to the profession of Catholicism: it is quite enough for each one to proclaim “Christian is my name and Catholic my surname,” only let him endeavour to be in reality what he calls himself.

  2. Gentlemen, I didn’t even know Levites wore cassocks OR could say Mass, let alone be paramedics.

    It’s a parable, not an instigation.

  3. We would fundamentally fail to grasp Jesus’ parable if we were to thank God we are not like that Pharisee – or to treat the Pharisee as if we were so thanking God.

    1. @Karl Liam Saur – comment #12:
      Absolutely! The Pharisee in the story is US. The publican is THEM. The Priest and Levite are US. The Samaritan, THEM.
      When one retells these stories to make the THEM character the bad guy, he flips its New and Good meaning back into fallen man’s old rut.
      This is not that deep.

  4. Quickly, Chris:
    P1. It’s how his message is being taken and he makes no effort to correct it. The messages themselves are prone to exquisite parsing, from which anything is likely to come.
    P2. It’s not so much the poor as Charity Himself who makes demands on our meagre charity. I’m very sorry for you if you in no way feel inconvenienced or put upon by His second demand (commandment).
    P3. Again, the “other”–the becassocked priest–being made the bad guy: absolutely opposite to the intent of our Lord’s parable. Well at least it won’t get you crucified, picking safe targets.
    P24. Yes, I agree. Perhaps Pope Francis shouldn’t afterall have distinguished the priest in his story as wearing a cassock thereby dividing groups of Catholics.

  5. In 1960, using Baltimore Catechism no. 3, I became a Catholic. The Maryknoll Father instructing me made it clear that love and service of neighbor prevailed over church laws like going to Mass, For instance, he said that if some one was drowning and I saw this on my way to Mass, I was obliged to stop and rescue even if it made me late or caused me to miss Mass. That in the days when missing Mass was REALLY sinful.

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