We all know this parable of the Good Samaritan. It is found only in Luke but how much it tells us about Jesus and how much does it challenge us as it did those listening to Jesus. The purpose of Jesus’ parables is to provoke you to think, LET IT ENTER INTO YOUR MINDS AND HEARTS AND CHALLENGE YOU. It sounds familiar enough. But it catches you with the unexpected. But Today’s parable surprises in a way that it keeps you on your toes. Let me explain.
The scholar of the law is the expert. He knows everything. He wants Jesus to give him a pat on the back and compliment him in front of everybody. SO he asks: Teacher: what must I do to inherit eternal life? That has a stock answer: Torah! Jesus asks him and he answers correctly with the Shm'a: love your God and love your neighbor as yourself. But he wants more: Who is my neighbor? And that gives Jesus the moment he has been looking for.
The victim of the robbers: the priest, the Levite and then THE SAMARITAN! If you were one of the listeners you would be shocked. You mean that even Samaritans can do good works? At the end of Jesus’ parable the scholar chooses well: the one who treated him with mercy! Not a tough choice to make given the choices but still and all it is the right answer though not the real challenge of the parable. Remember the question: who is my neighbor? Listen to Jesus’ question carefully: Which of these three was neighbor to the robber’s victim?
The real challenge is not to identify persons as objects. He puts the question to him and us: Which of you is neighbor to others? For whom are you willing to be a neighbor to others? You answer: my neighbor, my friend, my pal or even: if I see a needy person, I’ll give him a hand out. Jesus asks him AND US: To whom am I called to be a neighbor? We are called not to objectify but to keep asking ourselves for whom can I be a neighbor? And from that: who is NOT my neighbor if I want to be merciful as was the Samaritan, merciful as is the Son of God who is image of the invisible God: Jesus, whose human face shows us the face of the merciful Father.
Permit me to say a word to those here and watching on TV about your upcoming pilgrimage for WYD in Krakow. You will experience one of the most exciting and challenging times of your young lives. First you will be with our beloved Holy Father, Francis. But equally you will encounter young people from all over the world. Are you ready to meet them as your neighbors? Are you open enough to listen to them and share your hopes and dreams with them? Are you open to helping some of them who may be scared, lonely, struggling with one issue or another? Will you give them two silver coins of your time so that you can experience a true exchange of gifts, gifts that bear the image of the face of Jesus on them?
One WYD, at the catechesis we discovered a very small group, perhaps 12 or 15 Catholic youth from Mongolia! It was their first time out of their country and they had never encountered so many faithful Catholics. We became their friends, their neighbors. Another time, our group participated in a Mass where the music was supplied by young people from Tonga who taught us their songs that we sang at Mass. Msgr. Morrissey was so touched he asked me if he could go and be a priest in Tonga! I said NO.
The point is simple but so, so, basic to being a true follower of Jesus, his brothers and sisters, children of God. Moses had it right when at the end of DT: If only you heed the voice of the Lord, your God…this command is not mysterious or remote…No it is something very near to you, already in your mouths and in your hearts, you have only to carry it out!
Jesus, the Son of God, our brother and our Savior, through his parable, has invited us to make our own his question: For whom will I be a neighbor? And he invites all of us to answer by being good Samaritans: not just at home, not just during WYD but as part of your DNA as a faithful Catholic, whether we are young like you or old like -maybe I don’t know! me?
For we all have before us and in our hearts Jesus, the image of the invisible God, He is the head of the body, the Church…For in him all the fullness of the Father was pleased to dwell and through him to reconcile all things for God, making peace by the blood of his cross. He lives in you. He enables you to be good Samaritans and he works through you to bring God’s merciful love as you are the witnesses of his love by your words and deed to all our neighbors.
TO HIM BE THE GLORY IN YOUR HEARTS AND IN YOUR LIVES FOREVER AND EVER AMEN!