15TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – C
The question of the teacher of the Law “Who is my neighbor?” may sound politically correct. But it makes the self as the centre from which everything revolves or the standard which measures up things. Jesus turned around the question into the right perspective by asking “How can I be a neighbor to others in need?” It was not just about asking “who?” but “what can I do?”
The half dead man after being robbed and stripped became the subject that tested the vulnerability and the true character of three passers by in our parable this Sunday. A priest and a Levite passed by on the other side lest they incurred religious impurity which would hamper their worship in the temple. Besides, they might have thought their own security and to save themselves from further trouble as many of us would do. Both of them were Jews who in their own right were upright and pious. Now the twist of the parable as always found in the stories of St. Luke was the introduction of the Samaritan who helped the man. He was a foreigner and the most unlikely person to do anything good in the eyes of the Jews. The characters in the parable are anonymous and faceless precisely because they speak to us as our own.
The parable of the Good Samaritan is a break trough in changing our perspective in terms of treating others the Christian way. It also destroys the self as a demi-god that treats others only for personal profit or pleasure. To be a Christian is to open our heart ready to love others regardless of colour, race, religion, political conviction, or ideology. To be a Christian is to break away from our protective shells ready to get involved even if it means an invasion of our privacy. It is to open our vulnerability to be disturbed by the surprises of strangers that come along our way. It is our readiness to modify our plans and change our programs for the sake of a higher call. It also to invest our resources in times when others refuse to help those who are in need.
We were once laying on the road with no one to help us and Jesus as our Good Samaritan passed by and gave us back our life. To be a good Samaritan is to take on the revolutionary road of Jesus: to embrace a stranger as our own, to bear the pain and suffering of someone not even related to us, to share our resources even if it disturbs our security. It all meant loving others the way Jesus loves!
In doing these, we may not even be appreciated with a sense of gratitude by the world nor by our beneficiaries, but to be a good neighbor to another person in need who is Jesus-in disguise, is itself our reward!