From Pastor's Desk
From Pastor's Desk
Sunday, July 10th, 2022 – Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Cycle C Readings: Deuteronomy 30:10-14, Psalm 69 “Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live. ”, Colossians 1:15- 20, Luke 10:25-37
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” The Good Samaritan is one of Jesus’ most popular parables known by most of the people even for those who are not Christians. It started with one of the most important questions of a lawyer to Jesus: “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” The lawyer in this story is keenly interested in making sure Jesus’ interpretation of the Law/the Torah is correct. He already knew the answer: “‘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 ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’.”
It should not surprise us that the lawyer wanted to know who his neighbor is because there were different understandings about the definitions and notions of what neighbor is all about. For some of the Jews neighbor’ means, someone who is near to them, either physically or socially; the one who shares the same religious persuasion as themselves or only those who shares the same nationality and ethnicity with them, etc.
For Jesus, nevertheless, neighbor means anyone of any nation who is in need, regardless of his/her status in life. Without a doubt, Jesus went beyond the concept of neighbor as a friend or someone of the same religion or of the same nationality. Jesus did not respond with a definition, but with a story: the parable of the Good Samaritan. Meditating on this parable leads us to discover who our neighbor is according to Jesus.
In that story, the first person to see the victim is a priest, but rather than get involved, he passes by on the other side of the road. He is followed by a Levite, a temple-worker. The Levite does the same—he passes by. Then along comes a Samaritan. One must understand the relationship between Jews and Samaritans.
So, who were the Samaritans, really? They were not simply outcasts: They were the despised enemies of the Jews. They were a mix of Jew and Gentile, and the Jews did not like them. They had names for Samaritans like “half breeds” and “heathen dogs,” and considered them to be spiritually defiled or unclean. But in Jesus’ story, it is this outcast who stops to help. Not only does this Samaritan help, but he goes far beyond what most people do. He cleans the victim’s wounds with oil and wine, then bandages them and takes him to a safe place to be taken care of.
With this little story, Jesus asks the lawyer: “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”. Jesus has turned the question around. He is not asking, “Which people should I help?” He is saying: To answer the question, you need to put yourself in the shoes of the man who was beaten and left to die. Therefore, the better question should be: “When we need help, who do we want to help us?”
The parable ends with Jesus giving a commandment to go out and do the same as the Samaritan had done. So, Jesus is using the Parable of the Good Samaritan as an example of loving those who may not be our friends. Normally, it is easy to love friends and family, but it is much more difficult to love those who you may not get along with, or even those who may harm or hurt you. Luke is talking about the need to see as neighbors, people who are very strange to us and maybe even threatening to us. To show love to your enemies is to truly love as Christ did. This reminds us that we should also love our enemies as it is also reflected in Matthew's Gospel: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your friends, hate your enemies.’ But now I tell you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Mt 5,43-47). Therefore, we should not forget that our neighbor can be whoever God puts in our path or in our personal history regardless of his/her status in life or whether he/she is rich or poor, black or white, educated or not, native-born American or foreigner or refugees, legal or illegal…. The fact that it is a Samaritan who stops to aid the man in need highlights the point that we should show compassion and kindness to everyone we meet, even those who are considered enemies.
In our society today, there are countless victims along the road. They suffer from ignorance, disease, violence, blindness, depression, old age, poverty, discrimination, floods and fire and etc. At the end let us ask ourselves the following question: what are we doing for them?
In some sense, Christian brotherhood is the inclination to make any person our neighbor because the foundation of what it means to live a Christian life is to love without boundaries.
Let us not forget that:
a) Love your neighbor as yourself means love everyone.
b) Helping the person who needs help is helping Christ
c) And the only thing that matters is what you do.
To conclude this let us remember these words entitled Song of St. Francis for us to reflect: Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
When there is hatred, let me sow love
When there is injury let me bring pardon
When there is doubt, faith When there is despair hope
When there is darkness let me bring light
When there is sadness, let me bring joy….
Self-reflection: But do we keep the spirit of the Good Samaritan message alive in our daily lives? Do we put into practice the key lessons it represents?
Fr. Louis Nakpane, SVD