Reflection for Monday, October 6, 2008: 27th week in Ordinary Time.

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Kokensparger, Brian
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The "Good Samaritan," featured in today's Gospel reading, is one of the best known of Jesus' parables. Biblical scholars can most likely point out the meanings associated with the priest, Levite, and Samaritan characters in the parable. Other than a sneaking suspicion that a Samaritan did not have a good reputation among Jesus' followers, I'm afraid that the allegorical effect is totally lost upon me. But the Good News is that we don't have to know a Levite or a Samaritan personally to experience what Jesus is saying to us today.|As a young man in the early nineteen eighties, I decided to walk about the United States a bit before I settled down into the daily grind of employment. I thought I would hitchhike part of the way, so that I would get to see some of the great prairie, and meet some interesting people. I bought a bus pass to get me a bit further west from my native Ohio and got off the bus in Watertown, South Dakota. I walked into a little main street grocery store and bought two bottles of pop and enough cheese and meat to make a sandwich or two, and started walking north. Destination: Fargo, North Dakota. Thumbing all the way. Should be there by dinnertime, right? Boy was I stupid.|I got one ride from a farmer in a pickup truck that was only going as far as the next turn. After that, nothing. I walked a long way _ I'm not sure how far _ but the next town was twenty miles away. It was mid-summer, and it was hot. My skin burned. My one remaining bottle of pop was not enough hydration for an hour, not to mention an entire day of walking.|Every time a car came by in my direction (which only happened maybe two or three times each hour, even on that state highway), I turned and stuck out my thumb and tried to appear as upbeat and "pickupable" as possible. Every time, the car whooshed by without stopping. The sun was sinking towards the horizon, and I was beginning to get worried. In addition to the dehydration, the sunburn, and the abject fatigue, I knew that I would soon have to pitch my tent in the ditch and spend the night. What danger might lurk along this lonely road at night? I knew that South Dakota had a great number of "Indians" (as everyone called Native Americans in those days). Visions of black and white TV Westerns filled my mind _ complete with raids and _ yes _ scalping. I knew we were no longer living in the cowboy era, and figured (hoped) that things had probably changed, but being na and iuml;ve and uneducated in these matters, I didn't know that for sure. Depressed and stumbling, I finally gave up and just walked. Even though a few cars passed me by, I no longer bothered to turn around and point my thumb. "What's the use?" I thought. Then it happened. With no prompting from me at all, a car slowed down to a stop just a few yards in front of me. I hurried to it. The front door opened and a Native American woman called out "If we give you a ride, you won't hurt us, will you?" I just about cried.|It turned out that the lady and her son had attended a bowling tournament in Las Vegas. They were heading back to their reservation somewhere beyond Fargo, and welcomed me to ride all the way there. They gave me water. They gave me a ride. They treated me with mercy. Jesus could not have chosen a better parable to unfold before me that day.|Or before us today.
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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