RESPONSE 8 January, 2014 Amidst all the statistical noise of the announcement of the 2013 matric results we salute the real stars – not the numbers, the policies, the officials...
I am somewhat addicted to the proposition that the figure of the Good Samaritan [outlined in
TODAY’S GOSPEL: LUKE 10: 25 – 37] must be seen and understood as an image of Jesus himself. The Lord is, indeed, presenting himself as the Samaritan.
To reflect on the profound challenge with which we are here confronted it is essential that we immediately transfer our attention to the opening words of
TODAY’S NEW TESTAMENT READING [COLOSSIANS 1: 15 – 20]. There we read that “Christ Jesus is the image of the invisible God.”
Now we take another step and return to the very basic truth as presented to us in the book of Genesis
(1:27): “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”
So Jesus is the image of the invisible God and we too, each of us, are also created in the same image. It follows then that an essential part of our Christian faith is to be, in our life and living, good Samaritans. This is so because it is up to us to make the presence of Jesus Christ visible in our own small worlds. In so doing we become images of the Christian God. This, indeed, is a real challenge – and there is no escape.
One of the interesting factors of this famous parable is seldom focussed on. This is to be found in the ongoing commitment expressed in the words
“whatever more you spend, I will repay when I come back.” Far too often our outreach is of a passing, cursory, and impersonal nature. I give (a few coins or perhaps even a larger contribution than usual) to the beggar in the street – then I move on with my life and living. Will there ever be some sort ofcoming back as a real acknowledgement of some sort of ongoing commitment to ensure that recovery is permanent? It may well be that I ‘authorise’ an agent – the innkeeper – to take a more hands on and immediate role but am I prepared, as it were, to ‘finance’ the agent? I suppose it is about the well-known adage – give a man a fish and you fed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
There are so many wonderfully effective outreaches and organisations which are in really desperate need of ordinary folk who will assist in contributing resources, organisation, direction and regular hands on work. Always and everywhere there is a need for people to cook, serve food – and wash dishes (or donate a dishwasher!?). In the Archdiocese of Durban we have, for example, the Denis Hurley Centre. Then, do I really know who the members of the Parish St. Vincent de Paul society are actually
visiting and helping?
Is any of this nothing but an illusory hope of a daydreamer? Before it is all dismissed as unrealistic we should note that the Samaritan inconvenienced himself. He stopped and delayed his journey even though in an area well-know for being a security risk. He
“took care of him” when they arrived at the inn and only departed “the next day.” Too often my giving of a few coins to the beggar is little more than a passing by on the other side. There is nothing very personal about it.
In the Gospel the famous imperative which links the love of God to the love of neighbour is presented as a commandment. Our alternative
PSALM  proclaims that “the precepts of the Lord are right; they gladden the heart.” The other Psalm  adds we should not “spurn (our) own in their chains.” We need to be aware of the call in our OLD TESTAMENT SCRIPTURE [DEUTERONOMY 30: 10 – 14] which tells us that “we may hear it and do it.” This ‘IT’ “is in your mouth and in your heart.”
Impossible of achievement? Not so! Deuteronomy tells us that this great commandment is what
“I command you this day ….. it is not too hard for you.” “Who do you think proved neighbour? … Go and do likewise.”