THE GOOD SAMARITAN
Fr Rodney Kissinger, S.J
Table of Contents
“There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test him and said, ‘Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ Jesus said to him, ‘What is written in the law? How do you read it?’ He said in reply, ‘You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength and with all your mind and your neighbor as yourself.’ He replied to him, ‘You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.’ But because he wished to justify himself he said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’
Jesus answered with the parable of the Good Samaritan. “A man fell victim to robbers as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. They stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half-dead. A priest happened to be going down that road but when he saw him he passed by on the opposite side. Likewise a Levite came to the place and when he saw him he passed by on the opposite side. But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight. He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them. Then he lifted him up on his own animal took him to an inn and cared for him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction, ‘Take care of him. If you spend more than what I have given you I shall repay you on my way back.’ Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?’ He answered, ‘The one who treated him with mercy.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.’” (Luke 10: 25-37)
The parable is about a scene familiar to all of Jesus’ hearers: a robbery they all dreaded, on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho, two members of the clergy they knew so well and honored, and most of all a Samaritan they despised.
So, who is the neighbor? The parable tells us that the neighbor is the one in need. And who are in need? We are all in need. We are unique individuals but we are also social beings. We are all interdependent. No one is an island. Nothing exists alone. This is evident in the beginning of life and at the end of life. But it is also true in the rest of our lives even though it might not be as evident. “Assisted living” is part and parcel of the whole of life. Only God is independent.
In the parable, the victim received help from the most unexpected source, a Samaritan. All of us have also had the experience of receiving help from the least expected source. Often, those, from whom we expect help, cross over to the other side and walk away. And then comes someone we do not even know and they help us.
The Good Samaritan is an endangered species today. There is an inverse proportion between the number of Good Samaritans and the number of laws. The more good Samaritans there are the fewer the laws. The ever increasing number of federal, state, county and city laws is a sad commentary on our country today. People don’t want to get involved today because of the possibility of litigation. Many doctors are taking down their shingles today because the malpractice premiums are too high. Some traumatic hospitals are closing their emergency room for fear of being sued.
What we need today is not more laws but more good Samaritans. Today is a good day to increase the number of Good Samaritans. We don’t have to go out of our way looking for someone in need. In the ordinary course of the day, every day, we meet someone in need. Today, instead of crossing over and passing by, let us stop and help remembering that our Lord promised, “Whatever you do to the least of my brethren you do to me.” (Matt. 25:45)
In the parable of the Good Samaritan the Lord is painting a picture of Himself. Seeing our need he came to us in the Incarnation as one of us. And he comes to us where we are: to Simon Peter busy at mending his nets, to Matthew busy at his tax collector table, to the demoniac in the graveyard, to the woman getting water at the well and to Lazarus in the tomb. He binds up our wound in the oil and wine of the Sacraments and uses the Church as an innkeeper to care for us until he returns.
must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “What
is written in the law? How do you read it?” He said in reply, “You
shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being,
with all your strength and with all your mind and your NEIGHBOR as yourself.”
He replied to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you
will live.” (Luke 10:25-28)
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