The Good Samaritan – A Personal Story

Jul 9, 2019

Gospel Reflection, 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C


The Good Samaritan – A Personal Story

The story of the Good Samaritan is so well-known that it has achieved proverbial status.  For example, we speak of “Good Samaritan” laws.  But perhaps we haven’t thought of how deeply personal this story is.  We might be like the man who attempted to justify himself, asking, “Who is my neighbor?”  This was a more superficial question than the one he previously asked, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”  Yet, his question now has everything to do with eternal life.  It has to do with the greatest commandment – to love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.  It is an entirely personal discussion.

What does it look like to love one’s neighbor?  The story of the Good Samaritan challenges us all.  It is one in which the priest is in a hurry.  He is coming from his duty in the Temple and he wants to get home.  Perhaps he is afraid of the robbers who have been responsible for leaving the man half-dead, lying on the side of the road.  So the best thing is to keep moving and to hear nothing and see nothing.  The Levite follows the sad example of his superior.

The Samaritan, on the other hand, does not pass the man even though he is a foreigner.  Samaritans were looked upon as enemies of the people and their religion was considered semi-pagan.  Yet, he does not look at the clock or at his appointment book.  Without hesitation he gives first aid for the man’s wounds.  And only after he knows that the man is looked after at the inn does he continue his journey.

In today’s day, we have the situation of the foreigner in our midst with those coming from Mexico and other countries in search of a viable means to provide for their families.  While we recognize the right of nations to regulate their borders in an orderly and humane manner, we recognize the need to attend to the stranger and thus fulfill the greatest commandment.  The following is what The Catholic bishops of the United States and Mexico, in communion with the Holy Father, Saint John Paul II, in his 1995 World Migration Day message, affirmed:

In the Church no one is a stranger, and the Church is not foreign to anyone, anywhere. As a sacrament of unity and thus a sign and a binding force for the whole human race, the Church is the place where illegal immigrants are also recognized and accepted as brothers and sisters. It is the task of the various Dioceses actively to ensure that these people, who are obliged to live outside the safety net of civil society, may find a sense of brotherhood in the Christian community. Solidarity means taking responsibility for those in trouble.  The Church must, therefore, welcome all persons regardless of race, culture, language, and nation with joy, charity, and hope. It must do so with special care for those who find themselves–regardless of motive–in situations of poverty, marginalization, and exclusion.

We can see Christ himself as the Samaritan.  He does not overlook our needs, but always tends to our wounds and our needs.  And then we can see Christ in the wounded man.  We can see Christ in the foreigner who is wounded economically who is in search of a viable means to provide for his family.  Who was the victim’s neighbor?  The one who treated him with mercy, says the questioning man.  We are servants of Christ who he tells as he did the questioning man, “Go and do likewise.”

Father Tony