St. Michael's Parish - Cobourg

Medical Assistance in Killing and the Good Samaritan -Homily July 10, 2016

Medical Assistance in Killing and the Good Samaritan                -Homily July 10, 2016

Comillas cuando habla el mal samaritano. Retórica.

 

Dear Friends, I want to propose today a modern version of the famous parable of the good Samaritan. The good Samaritan is the epitome of mercy, and today people say that killing a patient who is about to die is an act of mercy. So I found that this parable needed a little bit of tuning in order to adapt it to the modern concept of mercy (of course, this is a “rhetorical” device, even a bitter joke). Mercy for Jesus meant to take care of the one who suffers, but “mercy” nowadays means to get rid of the one who suffers. Mercy for Jesus meant to sacrifice yourself to relieve your neighbour’s pain. Mercy nowadays is to sacrifice your neighbour, and instead of loving your neighbour as yourself, the rule is to love yourself and everybody to love me or at least to leave me in peace when I do what I want. So, it looks like it will be a little difficult, but let us try to reword this parable, so that we may see clearly what a disaster has happened in our country, with the passing of Bill C-14, the legalization of euthanasia.

 

A man fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a minister of God was going down that road, and he could have started with his community a hospice or a hospital to take care of the man, but he crossed to the other side of the road, to the ministry with the youth and to have meetings and play songs about peace and loving one another; and he passed by, leaving that man alone in his suffering.

 

A Levite, a religious person, also passed by, but he must have been busy with his own things, and did not want to bother about the needs of a person he didn’t even know. So he also ignored him. We cannot take care of everyone in the world who is in need, can we?

 

Now a Samaritan, a “good” Samaritan, while travelling came near him. He saw him half dead. “There is something wrong here,” he thought, “he is only half dead: let us make him wholly-dead!” The “good” Samaritan continued: “Poor man, he is suffering: look at his wounds… Let us make him a final wound! Let us assist him in dying. The robbers did not kill him with their violence: I will do to him something that will kill him. The robbers were not strong enough to finish with his life, but I will not make the same mistake, I will be stronger. The work begun by a robber, will be finished by a murder. I am the good Samaritan, the one who will not allow you to suffer more!” I am sorry, this is more than a bitter joke.

 

The “good” Samaritan kept saying to the man half dead: “If you don’t feel well, are you still a human being? If you cannot have pleasure, why are you alive? If happiness is pleasure, and you cannot experience it any more, why are you still here with us who (still!) can enjoy life? If human happiness is like the happiness of animals, what is the purpose of your life?

 

The “good” Samarian questioned him once more, with a kind of resentment in his tone: “Is there any life beyond the life of our bodies? Are you able perhaps to teach us something of what you have learned in your life? Are you able perhaps to love us, and console us with your words of comfort and your smile? Are you able perhaps to pray, or to put peace among your children, or to leave a legacy to a good cause, or to correct those who are doing wrong? Are you able to love God, are you able to love us, are you able to receive our love? Are you able perhaps to enjoy the fact that we are with you and accompany you, despite how much both you and we suffer? Are you able to feel that we are with you, and that we are sorry for you? Is that life?” And when he was about to finish his victim, almost talking to himself, he said: “Is that not life? Are you still free to do all those things, despite the prison of your illness? Are you not stronger than we are in your spirit, despite the weakness of your body?

 

“What is a man, what has he got, if not himself,” if not his freedom? Freedom means not to be free of pain (animals can be free in that way too!), but to overcome pain with love. This is the only human way of dying, and nobody can assist you to die like this. We are not free to kill: your right stops when the right of your neighbour begins. We are not free to kill ourselves: our life is not only a gift for ourselves but is also a gift to the whole community. We cannot deprive our family and our community of our love, of our gratefulness, of our prayers, of our witness, of our wisdom. True freedom is not to surrender to pain, but to overcome it with our decision to live. There is a meaning to suffering. There is a reward for those who suffer. There is an afterlife, and we will be judged on our decisions, and particularly for our last decisions.

 

I stay with Jesus, the true Good Samaritan. Let us relieve the pain of our brothers and sisters who are half dead. Let us promote palliative care for every Canadian, not only for the 30% of us. Let us not allow our brothers and sisters who suffer, to think that we want to get rid of them. Loneliness is the worst pain. People who are healthy but feel lonely suffer more than those who are agonizing surrounded by their families. That is why the former kill themselves sometimes, and the latter die. Life is to love and to be loved, happiness is to be loved by the one you love. Our brothers and sisters who suffer are still able to be happy, if we love them, if we are with them, if we approach them as the true Good Samaritan.  –Fr. Andrew