The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul, Wk. XV-C, 14 July 2019
Deuteronomy 30:10-14 >< )))*> Colossians 1:15-20 >< )))*> Luke 10:25-37
After teaching us about discipleship these past two Sundays, Jesus shifts his lessons to things “we must do” following a series of questions he encountered from people when he “resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem” (Lk.9:51).
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.”Luke 10:25-30
And thus Jesus answered the scholar of the law with the beautiful parable of the Good Samaritan that can only be found in St. Luke’s gospel. It has so endeared the world that hospitals and charities including laws and awards everywhere use the “Good Samaritan” title in recognition of the parable’s conviction that we are all neighbors.
Problem is, we have become so familiar with this parable that sometimes we think it teaches us nothing new. Like the Laws or the Ten Commandments, it has degenerated into becoming letters like a code imposed from the outside we simply follow. Moses tells us in the first reading how the Laws are “something very near to you, already in your mouths and in your hearts; you only have to carry it out” (Dt.30:14). Loving God and loving others is an interior and life principle innate within each of us.
This Sunday, Jesus is inviting us to set aside our thoughts about his parable of the Good Samaritan in order to see it in a deeper and personal perspective.
For most Christians especially Catholics, we always reach that stage in our lives when deep within us there is a longing for something deeper, for something more than what we have been used to. It is a very positive sign of spiritual growth. Like the scholar, we are no longer contented with the usual things we do like praying, Sunday Masses, and keeping the laws. At first we may not be able to verbalize or even identify what are the stirrings within us until we realize it is something more than this life we are having.
Like the scholar, we ask Jesus, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Lk.10:25). But, instead of probing deeper into our hearts, we tend to look outside for answers like the scholar asking, “who is my neighbor?”.
Twenty years ago, the sci-fi series “The X-Files” was a hit worldwide with its tagline “the truth is out there” to refer to all kinds of conspiracy theories and paranormal activities by the US government. Of the same genre today is the Netflix series “Stranger Things” that also points us to something “out there” for answers to many mysteries happening to us.
The answer is never out there – it has always been inside us! Always.
How strange that we keep on asking “who is my neighbor?”, searching for a theoretical definition of a neighbor we always think as somebody outside us. What we must be asking is, “am I a neighbor to others?”
Observe how Jesus narrated the parable where both the priest and the Levite “saw the victim and passed by 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” (Lk.10:32-34).
That’s the strangest thing of all! Two Temple officials simply “saw” the victim and passed by while a Samaritan “saw” also but was moved with compassion. To be moved with compassion in Latin is misericordia, a “stirring or disturbing of the heart” which translates into mercy.
Here we find the Samaritan looking deep inside him that he saw in him the plight of the victim that he was moved with mercy to help him. And that is to be a neighbor, to treat somebody with mercy that transcends any color or creed or nationality. See the question of Jesus at the end of his parable, “Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?” The scholar answered, “The one who treated him with mercy” (Lk.10:36-37).
My neighbor is the one with whom I identify with, with whom I am drawn near because of the mercy that moved me within to help in his or her sufferings. A neighbor is one who feels his or her own humanity that he or she is always moved with compassion with those who are in suffering and pain.
And the more we reflect on this parable, the more we see Jesus Christ is in fact the Good Samaritan himself. He is “the image of the invisible God, in him all things hold together” (Col. 1:15,17). It was Jesus who went down the road, becoming human like us in everything except sin, picking us up from our sinfulness and miseries, healing us of our wounds, and restoring us to life “through the blood of his cross” (Col. 1:20).
Let us heed his command this Sunday to “Go and do likewise” (Lk.10:37) as the Good Samaritan. Be a blessed neighbor to everyone! Amen.