Here’s a reflection on the Good Samaritan written by our parishioner and Theology graduate, Joanna.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit!
The story of the Good Samaritan is one of the most well known stories of the Bible and it is as thought provoking now as it was more than 2000 years ago.
In the Gospel, we encounter a young man, a lawyer. He asked Jesus: What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He knew that the most important commandment God gave us is “to love the Lord God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself”. Jesus confirmed the young man’s understanding and told him to “ do this and live”.
The lawyer, wanting to justify himself asked: “Who is my neighbour?” Jesus responds by telling a story. In the story, a Jewish man has been brutally robbed, beaten up and left to die on the street.
First, a priest passes by. A priest was close to where God dwelled, said his prayers and was only focused on higher things. Still, his response was to just walk by and ignore the man. Being in the dwelling place of God all the time and offering prayers had not changed his heart.
Then a Levite, a man from a well respected order of priests from the line of Moses and Aaron, well versed in Scriptures stood above the man and just like the priest before him did nothing. He walked by.
At last, a Samaritan sees the man. Now, Samaritans and Jews were enemies. Samaritans were a racially mixed group of people with both Jewish and Pagan ancestry. Their religion was not mainstream Judaism even though they believed in the One God. Samaritans were treated with contempt and as a result they avoided Jews.
Despite all that, the Samaritan stopped and showed compassion. The Samaritan did not see a man, a Jew, an enemy, one with different religious beliefs or political standpoint. He saw a human being in desperate need for help, so he took him to an inn on his own animal, made sure he got food drink and treatment. He paid for everything and made sure that the wounded man had everything he needed.
So let us return to the lawyer’s question. “ Who is my neighbour?”
This question is something all of us have at one point asked, some of us perhaps still do. Who is my neighbor can be paraphrased as follows: Who is he or she for whose sake I must willingly leave my comfort zone and worldly concerns and wholeheartedly aid with all I’ve got?
Jesus answers that question clearly. Everyone! Everyone is our neighbour, but, just like He elevated all the commandments, He does so here as well. Jesus asked the lawyer “ Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to him who fell among thieves?” “The one who showed compassion” answered the lawyer. Then Jesus commanded: “ Go and do likewise!”
So from identifying a person in need as our neighbour He asks us in addition to become neighbours.
For the Good Samaritan, a neighbour was not a person that was a neighbour in spirit or blood but simply a man he encountered on his journey. How many people do we encounter every day in the church, at school, at work or on the street? How often do we really look at them and offer a helping hand to them without counting the cost?
We must be like the Good Samaritan who acted with love just like God is loving and compassionate towards us. In addition, we should identify with the wounded man as well. All of us have suffered and perhaps still suffer. We often make wrong choices and end up in bad and difficult situations, we all fall into sin and act in ways we shouldn’t. So let us never forget that we too are as broken and wounded as the people we are called to help and with that realisation we must not judge or withhold our compassion because we know that pain, suffering and a hunger for love is the one thing we have in common with all humanity.
God loves us with a love that we cannot comprehend. God is love and we are made in his image and likeness, so we must try in all that we do to imitate that love, not as a one off, but constantly.