Friday, July 12, 2013
What about the Guy that was Helped--The Good Samaritan from a Different Point of View.
But what of this parable (Luke 10: 25-37) presented to us on this 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time? How does it speak to us? those of us who try to take Jesus' teaching seriously certainly try to be good Samaritans whenever the opportunity arises. We try to help the stranger in need. We wonder how to help a homeless person if we don't choose to offer money to them. On this past Memorial Day I tripped on the sidewalk in St. Petersburg sustaining cuts and bruises on my face and hands and any number of "good Samaritans" came to my rescue. I was deeply touched by that and will .always be grateful to those people.
Being that I was the guy who was helped that day has lead me to see this parable in a different light. We always ask, and we should, "Am I like the priest or the levite, passing by because I am too preoccupied with my own agenda, or do I help out the one in need? Might we also, however, ask "What would I do if I were the one in need?" It is difficult for us in a culture that overvalues self-sufficiency to accept help. Even though I was so grateful that day after I fell there was part of me that wanted to say, "Thanks, I'm fine. I'll be OK. I don't need help." even though I'm not OK. We worry about having a sense of entitlement, and we should, but being willing to receive help, receive the gift from another, is an act of humble graciousness, not entitlement. Peter learned that lesson from Jesus when he first refused the Lord's offer to wash is feet. He was told, "Unless I wash you you will have no inheritance with me." (John 13:8) In other words he had to learn how to receive the gift that Jesus offered.
There is more to being the one who needs help. In the parable the man who was robbed was helped by a Samaritan, people who were in conflict with the Jews. I wonder if the man thought, "Oh my goodness this guy is going to kill me, or rob me and beat me some more." What a surprise when this Samaritan helped him. Would you and I accept help from someone obviously attired as a Muslim, or who looked like an undocumented immigrant, or who looked "strange" in some way?
The last challenge is realizing that there are countless millions of people beaten and abandoned by the roadside. They are the poor and forgotten of this world, the people that Pope Francis calls the marginalized, the people on the outskirts. These are people that the Pope said are victims of the "globalization of indifference". Can we at least stand in solidarity with them, share in their vulnerability, realizing that in spite of many differences between us that they are our brothers and sisters and that we are all neighbors as the parable suggests?