The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?” But the good Samaritan reversed the question: “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?” – Martin Luther King Jr
Gospel Text: (Lk 10:25-37)
There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test Jesus 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.” 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.”
Today it is impossible to turn on the news without hearing about tragedy occurring in the world. It becomes almost easier to just turn the TV off, or better yet, not turn it on at all. There seems to be so much pain and evil going on today that it makes one feel like nothing can be done to help, let alone stop, all of this fear, hatred, and heartache. However, choosing to not turn on the news, or ignoring the realities of this world is definitely not going to fix anything.
The societal roles and therefore the behaviors of the men in today’s gospel draws a parallel to how society tends to operate today. It takes time and effort for the rich to help the poor, for the healthy to help the sick, or for the whole to help the broken. Just as in the story, it is easier for the priest and Levite to not be advocates, because it is in their interest to just keep walking. In the same way, it is easier to ignore the news, so one does not have to feel a responsibility to take action.
God is calling us all to be the Samaritan, even if He does not ask us specifically.
Being a servant of God and neighbor is not an easy task, and is not something that can be turned on and off when it is convenient. I recently watched a video of the chemical weapons launched in Syria. I was in shock at the torture that was occurring within the world; children were writhing to catch their breaths, but to no avail. These videos were truly heartbreaking, and I honestly wanted to turn them off, but those children disclosed Jesus in His most distressing disguise. It made me wonder how it would have felt to watch Jesus on the cross, gasping for air. Jesus suffered for us and with us, but He still calls us, daily, to stand up against wickedness and evil.
The wickedness of the world will not be fixed simply by being informed. We are all “called” to be advocates for one another, no matter who we are to society, because our truest selves are children of God.