15th Sunday of the Year C

The Good Samaritan

This Sunday’s Gospel is that of the Good Samaritan, the most well known parable of Our Lord.

The parable effectively challenges the three Cs in our lives that we all treasure and are slow to relinquish: comfort, convenience and control.

The great shame is that 2 out of 3 people failed the test of charity, and guess what – they were so called professional religious. To paraphrase Martin Luther King: The Levite asked "If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?" But then the Good Samaritan came by. And he reversed the question: "If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?".

A measure of our love of neighbour, and of commitment to others is our readiness and the speed with which we relinquish the three C’s. Someone who we can look to in the Gospels is the Mother of Jesus: ‘Mary went with haste’ to visit her kinswoman Elizabeth. Interesting.

Maybe in contrast, we use phrases like: ‘I’ll do it tomorrow’, ‘later’, ‘when it suits me’,’ when I have nothing better to do’, ‘on a rainy day’, ‘one of these days I must..’

How do we get off the sofa? How do I break the bad habit of procrastination?

I have a suspicion that anyone who imitates the Good Samaritan not only reaches into their heart and into their pocket like he did, but into their memory. He - although a fictional charcter in a parable - had experienced hardship for hgimself. Any Good Samaritan has known suffering, and perhaps has experienced compassion also. Is there someone in my life who has come to my aid, when others I expected to help me let me down? It is by entering into a spirit of solidarity that we find the motivation to act, even a little.

Have you ever been impressed by the generosity of someone who will make do with less so that others might benefit? I bet they were not terribly well off to begin with. It is one of paradoxes of life that the poor – or those who were poor once - are more generous than those who are always rich. And yet in their generosity, God does not forget the poor who give out of their needs.

Finally, in a given situation of need, there are 4 options available to us: to do NOTHING, which is not a Christian option, to do SOMETHING which is better than nothing, but is too vague, to do EVERYTHING, which is not always possible, but even the Good Samaritan knew he couldn’t do that, or to do ANYTHING we can, which is what the Good Samaritan did.

The response of the Good Samaritan was not a one-off, a cop-out to do something now to salve his conscience and then forget about it, but he committed himself to follow-through later when he could.

This week, Jesus says: ‘Go and do likewise’.

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