The following text (see below) is a commentary of the Parable of the Good Samaritan made by one of the Fathers of the Church, Severus of Antioch. I chose it because it exemplifies how we are supposed to read the Bible, how we can read it and understand it “in the Holy Spirit”. The Holy Spirit is the Main Author of the Bible – this doesn’t cancel the human authors but it gives a different quality to each word in the Bible. The central work of the Fathers of the Church was to comment the Scriptures “in the Holy Spirit”. The majority of their works are Commentaries of different books of the Bible, and Homilies made during the Mass.

During the first 6 centuries of Christianity God gave us these great Masters that we call “the Fathers of the Church” in order to show us how to read the Bible “in the Holy Spirit”. Their way of reading of the Bible respected the literal sense of the text: they always tried to be sure that they had a good translation of the Bible, and often tried to know the exact meaning of what they were reading. But as well – like Jesus shows it in Luke 24 and St Paul in 1 Co 10:6 – God’s Spirit opened their minds so they became able to see what the naked eye of a plain reading and analysis of the text wouldn’t see. What the Holy Spirit made them “see” is essentially Jesus present in the Holy Scriptures, Old and New Testament. We all need to go at the school of the Fathers of the Church and learn from them how to read the Bible. The Bible is the Bread of our Soul, and the Fathers of the Church opened wide for us the Bread-box of God.

Once our personal relationship with Jesus starts, we start to grow and the Bible – like Jesus – walks at our side and grows with us, giving us, day after day, a more substantial food. This is why, at a certain point, when Jesus opens our Soul in order to purify it, He deepens in the same time our understanding of the Bible, and He starts to feed us with the deeper meanings He enclosed and hid in it.

The journey of purification in us is a journey from the senses to the spirit, through the soul. It is like crossing the sea of Galilee. Jesus opens in us a way, that will lead us to the inner room where he – the Groom – dwells. A journey from the outer world to the inner world, in the centre of our heart. In this journey we need food, a spiritual food, for our soul and spirit; the Fathers of the Church and the Mystics show us how to grow in the reading of the Bible in the Spirit, and show us many new levels of richness hidden in the Bible. This is a unique experience. While we read the Father of the Church we are involved in a unique Experience of the Holy Spirit, where He opens our mind and heart to show us these new depths in the Bible, nourishing us with amazing new types of food. Like Moses, the Fathers of the Church hit our heart of Stone, so Jesus opens it, the the Waters of the Holy Spirit flow from it giving us a New Life in Jesus. Blessed are the ones who go at the School of the Fathers of the Church and the Christians Mystics!

It would be good first to read the Good Samaritan, at Luke 10: 30-37, then read this beautiful spiritual reading of it. Just remember that since the Bible is the Word of God, there is no one interpretation, we could have many. Though they always have to respect the literal sense of the text and the Truths of our Faith.

Please do not hesitate after that to dive in the reading of the Fathers of the Church. You can start with something easy to read like:

“The Lord’s Sermon on the Mount”, Saint Augustine.

– Saint Augustine’s “Homilies on the First letter of John”.

The Good Samaritan Commented by Severus of Antioch[1]


“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho.” Christ used the denomination of gender correctly: he did not say: “someone was going down”, but “a man was going down”. Indeed this passage concerns humanity as a whole. After the prevarication of Adam, humanity left its elevated and calm environment, where there was no suffering and the marvels of paradise, rightly named Jerusalem – which means peace of God – and went down to Jericho, a hollow and lowly place, where the heat is stifling. Jericho is the feverish life of this world, the life separated from God, which drags us down and brings on suffocation and exhaustion through the flames of the most shameful pleasures.

So, once humanity had turned away from the good route and toward this life, it was dragged downhill from above and carried away on the slope; a savage troop of demons came and attacked it, like a band of thieves. They stripped it of the clothing of perfection, leaving its soul deprived of all strength, of purity, of justice, of prudence, of anything that characterised the divine Image; but by striking it in this way, with the repeated blows of various sins, they struck it down and finally left it half-dead.

The law given by Moses went by; it looked at humanity lying there in agony. The priest and the Levite of the parable in fact symbolise the Law, since it introduced the levite priesthood. But, although the Law looked at humanity, it had no power: it was not able to procure the complete healing of humanity, it did not raise up the one who was prostrate. Because it lacked energy, it finally had to go away after a vain attempt. For the Law made sacrifices and offerings, as Paul said, “which are not able, in regard to conscience, to make perfect him who is serving“, because “it is impossible for blood of bulls and goats to take away sins”.

Finally a Samaritan came by … Christ gives himself on purpose the name Samaritan. For speaking to the doctor of Law, who made lovely discourse on the Law, he show by his words that neither the priest nor the Levite nor, in short, any of those expected to conduct themselves in accordance with the Law of Moses, did so, but that he himself came accomplishing the Law and showing by his acts themselves “who is our neighbour” and how to “love him as we do ourselves”, him whom the Jews, to outrage him, had said: “You are a Samaritan and you are a demon”.

The travelling Samaritan, who was Christ himself – because he really did travel – saw the man lying on the roadside. He did not pass him by precisely because the aim of his voyage was to “visit us”, he came to earth for us and dwelled among us. For not only did he appear, but he also conversed with men in truth.

He poured wine on his wounds, the wine of the Word; and because the seriousness of the wounds did not support this, he mixed oil with it, and so attracted, by his meekness and his “philanthropy” the criticism of the Pharisees, to whom he had to answer: Go and learn what this means: Mercy I will, and not sacrifice”.

Then he placed the wounded man on a beast of burden, – which means that he lifts us up above the beastly passions, he who also carried us himself, making us into “the members of his body”.

Then he brought the man to an inn – he calls the Church inn, which has become the dwelling-place and the receptacle for all people. Indeed, we do not hear him say, in a restricted sense, with a legalistic shadow and with a figurative worshiping way: “The Ammonite and the Moabite shall enter into the Church of God”, but rather: “Go and teach all the nations”. And once they had arrived at the inn, the Samaritan asked that even greater kindness be shown to the one he had saved: indeed, when the Church had been formed by the reunion of the peoples who had died to polytheism (or: who were dying in polytheism), Christ was in her giving every grace. And to the innkeeper – a figure of the Apostles and the pastors and doctors who came after them – he gave – when he ascended into Heaven – two denaries, so that he might take great care of the sick man. We see in these two denaries the two Testaments, the Old and the New, that of the Law and the Prophets, and the one given to us by the Gospels and the Constitutions of the Apostles.[2] Both are from the same God and bear the image of the one God on high, by the means of the holy words, since one and the same Spirit pronounced them. Let Manes therefore take flight, as well as Marcion, that very impious man who attributed these two Testaments to two different gods! These are the two denaries of one king, Christ gave simultaneously and in the same way to the innkeeper. Now, according to the pastors of the holy Churches who received these two denaries and who increased them through their teaching, with work and labour, after also having payed for their own needs – for the spiritual money, when one spends it, does not diminish but augments, since it is the word of doctrine -, each one of them will say to the Master at his return on the last day: “Lord, you gave me two denaries; while spending them for myself, I earned two more”, with which I augmented the flock. And the Lord will answer, saying: “Well done, good and faithful servant, you have been faithful in little things, I will set you over many. Enter into the joy of your Lord”.

[1] Homily 89. Quoted in Henri de Lubac, Catholicisme (Paris: 19474), pp. 377-379.

[2] Saint Augustine explains that these two denaries are the two commandments of the love of God and the love of our neighbour. His interpretation is close to Severus’, for the two commandments sum up the Law and the Prophets as well as the Gospel.