Reflection for Monday, October 5, 2020: 27th week in Ordinary Time.
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|Today's Gospel reading features a well-known parable, one familiar even to people who are unfamiliar with the Bible or church. I have heard about the Good Samaritan many times since I was a child, and I have looked at the parable from many angles. I often find myself wondering about the reasons for the priest's and Levite's behavior. Both certainly saw the victim because both crossed the road to avoid coming close. Each might have worried that attackers were still near, or one may have thought that the victim was faking. Maybe the priest or the Levite was late for a pressing engagement or had important work to do. Possibly neither possessed the skills to give the type of care needed. Perhaps the victim seemed dead, so the intentional avoidance of a presumed corpse was adherence to religious law. It could even be that the victim was of a religious, social, national or racial group with which a devout Jew did not regularly interact. |A danger (at least for me) of this type of speculation is that I become a spectator to the story who sits in judgment of a priest and a Levite who acted so insensitively. From this comfortable position, I can justify or criticize, all the while keeping distance so that the story does not hit close to home. I get uncomfortable when I put myself in the shoes of the scholar who asks the important question: "Who is my neighbor?" I admit that sometimes, when I ask that seemingly innocent question, what I really want to know is: "What are the exceptions to this commandment? The limits? Who can I exclude? Surely you don't mean him or her? Who is in MY group of neighbors, and who makes up the THEM group I can despise, or at least ignore?" |When I look at the Samaritan, I glimpse what loving a neighbor means. Coming close to someone in pain, frightened and alone. Putting another's needs over my own self-interest, comfort and safety. Committing without determining cost or expecting repayment, then returning in case more is needed. And treating the person from the outset as a neighbor to be loved, without requiring reciprocity.|There are neighbors all around us who need love and mercy. They have been beaten up and isolated economically, emotionally, physically, medically – and the pandemic and political crises have intensified the pain for many. My challenge is to respond as a Good Samaritan. I can't withhold help until I am sure that I am not inconvenienced or until I am sure that the person is part of a group I support. I need to offer aid, even if I don't like the political sign in my neighbor's yard, if he has been intolerant about faith, race, or immigration, if she hasn't thanked me for the last time I helped, if . . . . You get the idea.|It can be easy to say the words about loving God with all heart, being, strength and mind, and loving a neighbor. With the parable, Jesus gives us an idea of what that means. Now go and do likewise.
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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