Introduction: With the example of the Good Samaritan, Jesus teaches us to recognize our neighbor in need.
Lord Jesus, whoever sees you sees the Father, Lord, have mercy
Christ Jesus, you are the first and the last, Lord, have mercy
Lord Jesus, you are the vine that bears fruit. Lord, have mercy
May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and brig us to everlasting life. Amen.
“Why didn’t I turn?” A woman was standing on a curb, waiting for the light to say
WALK so that she could cross the street. Directly across from her on the opposite curb was a girl of about 17. She too was waiting for the light to say WALK so that she could cross the street. The woman couldn’t help but notice that the girl was crying. In fact, her grief was so great that she made no effort to hide it. For a moment their eyes met. It was only a fleeting glance, but it was enough for the woman to see the terrible pain that filled the girl’s eyes. Then the girl looked away. At that moment the light changed. Each stepped off the curb into the street and started across. As the girl approached, the woman could see that she was quite pretty, except for that terrible grief in her face. Just as they were about to meet, the woman’s motherly instincts came rushing to the surface. Every part of her wanted to reach out and comfort that girl. The desire was all the more great because the girl was about the same age as one of her own daughters. But the woman passed her by. She didn’t even greet her. She just passed her by. Hours later the pain-filled eyes of that girl continued to haunt the woman. Over and over the woman said to herself, “Why didn’t I turn, fall in step with her, and say, ‘Honey, can I help?’ But I didn’t. I walked on by. Sure, she might have rejected me and thought me a nosey person. But, so what! “Only a few seconds would have been lost, but those few seconds would have been enough to let her know that someone cared. But, instead, I walked on by. I acted as if she didn’t even exist.’’
Who is my neighbor? The Letter of James says, "faith without good works is dead". Today's Gospel story is a case in point. It is one of the most famous stories told by Jesus. There are four people. There is a priest, who is a Jew and, besides, a man of deep religious convictions. There is a Levite, also a Jew, and also a religious person and a member of the priestly caste. There is a Samaritan, whom we only know as some kind of merchant. We know nothing about his religious convictions (although in those days a totally non-religious person would be rare); it seems that his religious faith is irrelevant to the story. Finally, there is a fourth person lying severely injured on the road. Who is this person? What was he by profession? We think of him mostly likely as another Jew, otherwise the point of the other Jews passing by loses some of its force. But he could have been a Samaritan, or another priest, or another Levite, or someone else altogether... As far as the story goes, it is totally irrelevant what labels could be attached to him. The only thing that matters is that here is a human person who is deeply in need of help. In such a situation, the response to be given is perfectly clear. Forget about your own ambitions, or what other people will think about you. Forget about your personal desires and fears which lock you into a kind of prison.
Forget about your "religious" obligations. Were the priest and the Levite on the way to the Temple in Jerusalem? If so, they could not risk coming in physical contact with the injured man if, as was most likely, he was bleeding. Contact with blood would have rendered them "unclean" and prevented them from carrying out their Temple obligations. "I know you have broken your leg and need an ambulance but, sorry, I will be late for Mass. But if you are still here when I get back..."
Forget about the moral condition of the person to be helped. It is again totally irrelevant to the story how the injured man got into this situation. He may have been quite stupid to be traveling alone along a road that was notorious for robberies and hijackings. He might even have been a highwayman who had been beaten up by those he intended to rob!
For Jesus, in telling this story, none of these considerations mattered. What did matter was that this injured man now had a higher priority than the concerns of the other three. But only one of the three others - and he was a despised, non-believing outsider - responded to the injured man's immediate and urgent need. Yet one is given the impression that the Samaritan was the one most likely to be in a hurry. However, not only did he break his journey to apply first aid, he even went out of his way to bring the man to a hostelry where he could rest and recover. He paid the expenses as well.
Today's story has very practical implications. And, once again, let us remind ourselves that Jesus is not giving a "religious" teaching for an elite minority. He is telling all of us how to be truly human. It is the way all people are called to behave towards each other. As the First Reading puts it, this Law is "not in heaven... nor is it beyond the seas" outside our reach. No, "it is very near to you, it is in your mouth and in your heart for your observance". In other words, Jesus is calling us, not to be some kind of unnatural super-being, but to be true to the deepest convictions of our own nature.
‘It’s none of my business.’ Some years ago, a magazine carried an article. It was entitled “Why Should I Get Involved?”
One day the journalist boarded a subway train. Inside the car, a young man about 18 was holding the center post. Across from him sat a young woman. At 50th Street the train slowed to a stop. The young woman headed for the door. Suddenly she began hitting the boy and screaming, “You fresh punk!” The astonished boy threw up his arms in defense. In doing so, he must have hit her face, because her mouth began bleeding. She shouted, “Police! Police!”. In panic the boy ran from the car. The girl ran after him, still shouting.
The journalist sat stunned. He had witnessed the whole thing. The boy had done nothing. The girl had falsely accused him. At that point, The journalist wondered what would happen if the boy got caught. When The journalist got to his office, he couldn’t get the incident out of his mind. Finally, he picked up the phone and called the nearest precinct.
The boy had been caught and sent downtown to Juvenile Court. He was told that the boy’s name was Steve and that a lawyer named Fleary would be representing him.
The following Monday, the journalist showed up for the court case. The lawyer briefed him. There was bad news. A few years back the boy had been picked up with some other boys on suspicion of stealing a car, but he had not been charged. When the judge began questioning the girl, the journalist couldn’t believe the things she was saying. At that point the judge asked her to be specific, because a witness to the incident was present. When the girl heard this, she grew nervous, fumbled for words, and began contradicting herself. The judge stopped and called both lawyers forward. He huddled with them, and they nodded in total agreement.
The judge dismissed the case. The girl was apparently sick and needed psychiatric help. Overwhelmed with gratitude, the boy grasped the journalist’s hand, too choked to speak. On his way home, the journalist thought to himself, “How close I came not to get involved, thinking, ‘It’s none of my business.’”
****** - interesting idea of Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict proposes another, more contemporary application of the parable of the Good Samaritan. He sees the entire continent of Africa symbolized in the unfortunate man who has been robbed, wounded, and left for dead on the side of the road, and he sees in us, members of the rich countries of the northern hemisphere, the two people who pass by if not precisely the brigands themselves.
We cannot say, “it’s non of my business”
“I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” “Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.” – Mt 25,40&45
- With confidence, we turn to God with the needs of the world, to God who hear the cry of the poorest.
- Saving God, your mercy heals the wounds of the world. Hear and answer the prayers we offer in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.