THE STORY OF THE GOOD SAMARITAN
(A biblical reflection on the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time [Year C] – July 10, 2016)
Gospel Reading: Luke 10:25-37
First Reading: Deuteronomy 30:10-14; Psalms: Psalm 69:14,17,30-31,33-34,36-37 or Psalm 19:8-11; Second Reading: Colossians 1:15-20
The Scripture Text
And behold, a lawyer stood up to put Him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read?” And He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And He said to him, “You have answered right; do this, and you will live.”
But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed mercy on him” And Jesus to him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:25-37 RSV)
The story of the Good Samaritan is a parable. That means, it never really happened. But since it is a parable, it has happened a million times. We can pull it out of its Middle East setting and place it in modern-day America and make it happen again.
A man was driving in the night and he stopped to stretch his legs at a rest area. Someone hit him over the head with a club and stole his car and money. Later, a well-known pastor of a church made a brief stop, saw the unconscious, bleeding man, but was afraid and drove off and left him. Then a businessman drove by in a fancy sports car, spotted the victim and sped on, not wanting to get involved. Finally a junky old pickup truck rattled into the area, driven by a scarfaced Cuban, recently deported from one of Castro’s prisons. Seeing the victim, he ran to the pump and soaked his large red handkerchief, then wiped the man’s face until he regained consciousness. He then lifted him in the truck and hurried to the emergency room at a hospital. Since the victim had no identification, the Cuban gave his own name and address, assuming responsibility for any bills not covered by the man’s hospital insurance. Which of the three proved to be the victim’s neighbor?
When Jesus asked that question, His audience so hated the Samaritans (half-breeds and heretics) that they would not even say “Samaritan”, but only “the one who took pity on him”. We may not like the story either, for it tells how people (like you and me) can ignore others, even those in dire need. It says that some “big people” are not so big – and that others, thought to be of little account, are tremendous individuals.
There are countless victims along the road. They suffer from ignorance, disease, violence, blindness, depression, old age, poverty, floods and fires. A teacher might choose to ignore the ignorant; a doctor could refuse the sick; a salesman can cheat the naive; the clergy can avoid the sinners; the rich can pretend not to see the poor.
Many need only a little help, like a dollar bill, some good advice, a genuine smile or just a minute or two of our time to hear “their story”.
The road between Jerusalem and Jericho goes from above sea level to below; from the dusty desert to plush green fields, for long straight stretches to winding hills and valleys. In other words, it’s a model of any road, any place, any time. Since we only pass by once, why not be a Good Samaritan along the way?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, the greatest single obstacle I have in loving my neighbor is myself. I am always giving in to selfishness, rather than making a sacrifice for my neighbor. Even when I do something for my neighbor, there is often resentment or pride. Heal me and renew me, that I may never forget that my neighbor is Your presence in the world. What I do for anyone, I do for You. When I fail others or ignore others, I fail and ignore You. Forgive me, for all the times I have failed You, all the times I hurt You in others. Thank You, for Your forgiveness. Amen.
Note: The text of the reflection is taken from Rev. James McKarns, “GO TELL EVERYONE”, pages 252-253. The prayer is adapted from one in Father Killian Speckner OFMConv., “THE PRAYERS OF FATHER KILLIAN”.
Jakarta, 7 July 2016
A Christian Pilgrim