Last Sunday, on July 14, we celebrated the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time of the Liturgical Year-C, also known as the ‘Good Samaritan Sunday’.
We meditated on the Gospel of the Good Samaritan according to St. Luke 10: 25-37.
The great act of mercy and kindness by a Samaritan who saved the life of a stranger in danger of death should melt our hearts!
Francesco Bassano "The Good Samaritan"
You might recall that there was great animosity between Jews and Samaritans going back hundreds of years. Though the two communities lived side by side as neighbors, Jews despised Samaritans to an extent that if a Jew came into close proximity with a Samaritan, he would be rendered ‘unclean’, ‘impure’, and ‘defiled’. Yet, the Gospel story goes: a Samaritan acted out of mercy and kindness, and saved the life of a stranger who happened to be a Jew, after his being robbed and left half-dead on the roadside. The Samaritan showed incredible care for the severely injured stranger, putting aside his own plans for the day, responded with urgency, and even returned the next day to ensure that the victim was taken care of.
Eugene Delacroix: The Good Samaritan (1849)
Jesus uses the example of a kind and merciful Samaritan to show us that ‘neighbor’ could be anyone, even someone we despise. Do not be surprised that those we often marginalize, or take for granted, or whom we call funny names, might indeed be angels in our midst, sent by God as our life-savers!
The takeaway is that the parable of the Good Samaritan challenges us: to be nice, kind, merciful, compassionate, loving, generous, supportive, considerate, non-judgmental, and respectful to one another; to stand firm and united against every form of discrimination, injustices, stereotypes, and prejudices, all around us; to see and acknowledge the face of God in every person, even in those whom we tend to see as the ‘other’. St. John teaches us: “If anyone says: I love God, but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. Whoever loves God must also love his brother” (1 Jn 4:20).
Vincent Van Gogh "The Good Samaritan"
Bottom line: the tall order from our Savior to love God and our neighbor wholeheartedly calls us to examine our conscience and think about the way we treat those around us, not to mention strangers. Perhaps the ‘Golden Rule’ should come to mind: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Lk 6:31). How we respond to those in need, in the midst of our busy lives, tells a lot whether we care or not. A simple act of mercy and kindness can make all the difference. It could mean answering our door to a lost stranger looking for direction, or delivering a meal to a homeless shelter, or donating a warm blanket to refugee or an immigrant in great distress, or encouraging a drug addict to seek help, or keeping our voices low when solving a family dispute, or keeping our environment clean and free of trash, or donating to a Pro-Life cause, or a surprise call to a long-forgotten friend. The opportunities are endless, if we choose to.
Let us pray for open hearts and minds, ready to respond out of mercy and kindness whatever is demanded of us at each moment, keeping in mind the words of our Savior: “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least of mine, you did for me…” (Mt. 25: 31-46).
Peace be with you!