Insights On The Parable of the Good Samaritan
“… a Samaritan …”
As followers of Christ we are called to a high standard of love. I was especially impressed by something that happened at the Superdome in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. As help was arriving to rescue people, many pushed forward—even violently—to be taken first. A small group of Vietnamese Catholics quietly remained in their places, praying the rosary, asking that the others be taken first. Another moving example occurred in October 2006, when the Amish community in Pennsylvania publicly forgave a gunman who had brutally shot and killed five Amish schoolgirls.
When I witness families, communities, and parish committees who have a communication style marked by passive aggression or angry bitterness, I wonder where our high standard of love has gone. How are we different from those who have no faith? We have no gun (usually) so the violence isn’t reported in the papers, but it is still hateful violence. Can we still rise to the challenge that Jesus gives us with the parable of the Good Samaritan?
'When we hear “Good Samaritan,” our hearts are warmed by the gentle kindness of the man who went out of his way to help someone who was down and out. When Jesus’ listeners heard “Samaritan,” they felt at least intense disgust if not outright hatred. Strong animosity existed between the Jews and the Samaritans. They didn’t live together, eat together, pray together, or even communicate. A centuries-long standoff kept the two groups apart. Jesus is saying that the one you hate, the one you think is no good, may be the one who will someday save you. In a way, Jesus is describing himself as the Good Samaritan for the human race. Jesus is also showing us how to behave when we are the labeled outsider, and he is humbling those who label others as good or bad. Finally, Jesus is calling us as his followers to communion, mutual forgiveness, and personal service.
Jesus, what you say is hard. I’m not sure I can do this. How can I create communion in the difficult situations in which I live? I hear your answer: “You can’t create communion. Only I can. All I ask you to do is to forgive, to serve the other people in your life, even your ‘enemies,’ and to love everyone.”
All that you ask of me, Lord, I cannot do on my own. I depend on you to accomplish it in me.
Daughters of St. Paul. (2011). Ordinary Grace Weeks 1–17: Daily Gospel Reflections. (M. G. Dateno & M. L. Trouvé, Eds.) (pp. 256–258). Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media.