The following reflection is by Bonnie Chester, Ursuline Associate.
Do you see me?
These words might very well have been the ones that came to the mind of the victim in the parable of the Good Samaritan. This story is the gospel for Monday in the 27th week of ordinary time. Luke is the only evangelist to pen this story. He writes this narrative when Jesus responds to a question of a “certain scholar of the law.” (Luke 10:25) The questioner wants to know what he has to do to possess eternal life. Jesus answers him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”
The scholar then asks, “Who is my neighbor?”
Jesus proceeds to describe a man who, after being robbed, was most likely lying along the road, beaten and wounded. Jesus describes the scene. The man happened upon robbers, who now also plundered him. And after inflicting him with wounds, they went away, leaving him behind, half- dead. A priest and a Levite both see the victim but pass him by. Have you known in your heart that a co-worker or a family member could use a boost with a word of encouragement or just your time to listen and comfort you? Have you seen them? Can you see their worried and/or anxious look? Start by maybe getting to know your co-worker. Set aside time to be with your child, or another family member, with a ready, listening ear.
The interesting thing about a third passerby, who obviously stops to help, is that he is a Samaritan. Since the victim most likely was a Jew, these two were enemies. They were divided by racial and ethnic barriers dating back to the period of time when the Jewish people were divided into two groups, and some of them were taken into captivity at Babylon. When reunited, they did not get along very well! Does this situation bring to mind the present state of our world where the hardest thing for many people is to love the nearby neighbor whose skin color, language, rituals, values and ancestry, history and customs are different from one’s own? Do we need to learn a lesson from the Samaritan and emulate his actions? Do you see the heartache and needs of others, or do you just pass by?
Well, the victim does not have to question this Samaritan, “Do you see me?” Rather, the passerby “binds up” the wounds of the Jewish man. He poured oil and wine on them and, setting him on his pack animal, took him to an inn and cared for him. Not only that, but he also leaves money for the proprietor to “take care of him.” Wow! At what lengths would you go for a neighbor, or even a stranger? Maybe you wouldn’t feel like going out of your way, spending your time—and even your money—to better the situation. How do you react to the person standing at the corner with an all-too-familiar sign for help?
This Samaritan makes a huge sacrifice to improve someone else’s life, as we should do. He sees the victim as a beloved child of God. We, too, should love and “see” our neighbors. Come out of your comfort zone—give your time, resources and your love.
At the end of the story, Jesus tells the scholar, “Go and do likewise.” Imagine Jesus saying that same thing to you in a similar situation.
Father, show me how to do likewise, to love and “see” my neighbor. Amen.
Art: Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) – The Good Samaritan, detail. Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo.
The Greatest Commandment.
There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test him and said, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read it?”
He said in reply, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”
He replied to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.”
The Parable of the Good Samaritan.
But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
Jesus replied, “A man fell victim to robbers as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. They stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half-dead.
A priest happened to be going down that road, but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side.
Likewise a Levite came to the place, and when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side.
But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight.
He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them. Then he lifted him up on his own animal, took him to an inn and cared for him.
The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction, ‘Take care of him. If you spend more than what I have given you, I shall repay you on my way back.
Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?”
He answered, “The one who treated him with mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
Luke 10: 25–37