Sunday of the 15th Week in Ordinary Time
Deut 30:10-14; Psalm 69; Col 1:15-20; Luke 10:25-37
We are very familiar with the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Nowadays, it has even taken an iconic stature that anyone doing good works is referred to as a Good Samaritan. Assistance agencies also use the Good Samaritan for their name and programs: Good Samaritan Foundation, Good Samaritan Program, Good Samaritan Therapy Center, etc… There are even Good Samaritan laws or statutes that require us not to just stand by idly while someone is in dire need.
Yes, the more conventional and more direct interpretation of the parable, as Jesus Himself affirms, is that the good neighbor is the one who exercises compassion as exemplified by the Good Samaritan.
But we can expand the interpretation and see that all the characters in the story are actually good neighbors in varied ways. “Who is a good neighbor to whom?” may be the question we can explore. While it is the Samaritan who acted as a good neighbor to the robbery and mugging victim, to whom are the other characters good neighbors? For the priest and the Levite, the victim by the wayside may not be their priority but rather their religious community. To come to his aid may have been put aside so as not to render themselves ritually impure or unclean according to Jewish laws. They were just following the Laws of God. They chose to be good neighbors to their more immediate religious community to whom they have obligations. But still, they may be remiss in attending to the more proximate and dire need of the victim by the wayside, because they can still later go thru remedial purification rituals after first saving the life of the victim. The innkeeper was also a good neighbor to both the victim and the Samaritan when he received them into his inn. He enabled the victim to be cared for by the Samaritan and later by himself. He was a good neighbor to the Samaritan for agreeing to continue the task he has taken up in caring for the victim.
Yesterday, Sr Manuela guided us in reflections on care. She pointed out how St Benedict provided for the care of the monks in their material and spiritual needs, and even for the tools they use and the people they serve in his Monastic Rule.
I grew up in a military community. One Easter Vigil Celebration, I noticed his aide approached the commanding general and briefly whispered to him. Immediately he got up and interrupted the chaplain in his homily and also whispered to him. Then the chaplain announced, “There is a fire going on in the city market. We request all the military personnel here to please go with our commanding general to offer assistance. They all left and Mass proceeded. Soon firetrucks went by with blaring sirens. Yes, the call to care may interrupt even what we hold sacred if only to serve other sacred creatures in dire need. Sr Manuela also reminded us about priorities in performing care responsibilities. Yes, we shall love the Lord, our God, with all our heart, with all our being, with all our strength, and with all our mind, and our neighbor as ourself. But do we also realize that God loves us?
So let’s take another angle of the story. What if it is called “the parable of the fallen man by the wayside”? Looking at it from the point of view of the receiver of the good work. What do we learn? Surely we will come to realize how God is always there for us. God finds a way to help, even in the most unexpected way – through a stranger, someone we do not like or rather not associate with, someone with much less resources but has the heart to offer help. It may not be in the way we expect or desire or anticipate. We cannot choose how God would intervene. We only have to accept, embrace and be grateful. God always comes by, or better still- God is always nearby. The parable tells that God is in charge. We only need to surrender, no matter how the situation might look hopeless. Random acts of kindness may not be random at all. Remember the times when we were most helpless and hopeless then someone comes by unexpectedly or something unexpectedly happens. Yes, God sends people and events our way to help us out. I’m sure many have come to realize now how this Monastic Institute is one of the many ways God has been offering His care and at the right moment.
The parable ends with the exhortation, “Go and do likewise.” We may say that it means not only “Go and be compassionate.” but also “Go and receive compassion.” Sr Manuela reminds us of the need to grow in the Christian attitude of surrender and obedience.
When I was in a Catholic high school (De La Salle), we taught catechism in public schools. The first meeting I attended when I was in the First Year turned out to be the re-organizational meeting. Discussion on the name of the club was up. Since we were not the official catechists from the parish and only indirectly under the CCD – Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, it was deemed an option to go by another name. Everyone got excited and supported the suggestion that we call ourselves C.A.R.E. – Catechetical And Religious Emissaries. Until now I can go back to that great feeling of being sent as an emissary, to be sent on a mission to care.
Yes God sends emissaries to extend His care. Along life’s journey, we shift from time to time from being the giver and being the receiver of God’s care. No act of kindness, of love and concern, of compassion, is too trivial to be called God’s act of extending His care. Yes, God cares for us or through us.
So let us go and do likewise, go give and go receive God’s care!
– No one is so rich as to not need anything more and no one is so poor as to not be able to give. –