A man was going down the road from….’
Jesus doesn’t attach any religious or social labels to the man, though it’s reasonable to assume he was a Jew. Was he a good man or a bad man? Was he an important man or an unimportant man? These questions are irrelevant. He was a human being. That’s all that matters.
‘He was set upon by bandits….’
Heartless, violent men, who prey on the weak. Jesus lived in the real world. He knew that such people existed. We know about them too.
‘A Priest and a Levite saw him lying there half dead… but passed by.’
The Priest and the Levite were religious people. Yet they didn’t even feel compassion for the wounded man. Religion without compassion is a contradiction. Without compassion one can’t call oneself a true human being never mind a truly religious person.
‘A Samaritan came along….’
He saw the wounded man, felt compassion for him, and went at once to his aid. He didn’t worry about the trouble it caused him. Nor was he put off by the fact that the man was a Jew—Jews and Samaritans were enemies at that time.
At the start of the story we know very little about the Priest, the Levite and the Samaritan. At the end of it we still don’t know much about them. Yet we know all that matters. We know the kind of people they were. Their characters have been revealed to us.
The Priest and the Levite were self-centred people. When the crunch came, they put themselves first. The Samaritan, on the other hand, was an unselfish person. He put the other person first. The Priest and the Levite were guilty of the sin of omission. Sins of omission may be our worst sins, yet while we think that as long as we don’t do harm to anyone we are okay. But perhaps we have watched someone being hurt, and not intervened on his/her behalf? There are people who stay clean by distancing themselves from anyone in trouble.
The Samaritan was a carer. Carers are very special people. They are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. They don’t care out of a sense of duty. They care because their heart will not allow them to do otherwise.
Each of us has the capacity to care. Small opportunities to care come our way every day. It’s within our power to say a kind word, to offer a little sympathy, to give a little support. These are the little drops of ‘oil and wine’ which can take some of the pain out of a wound.
The road from Jerusalem to Jericho represents the road of life. At the end of the story Jesus said to the lawyer, ‘Go and act like the Samaritan.’
Those words are spoken to us too. And since we are still on that road, we can still carry them out.
Beatitudes for Carers
The good Samaritan was someone who cared.
Blessed are those who care: they will let people know they are loved.
Blessed are those who are gentle: they will help
people to grow as the sun helps the buds to enfold.
Blessed are those who listen: they will lighten many a burden.
Blessed are those who know how to let go: they will have the joy of seeing people find themselves.
Blessed are those who, when nothing can be done or said, do not walk away, but
remain to provide a comforting and supportive presence: they will help the
sufferer to bear the unbearable.
Blessed are those who recognise their own need to receive: they will be able to give all the better.
And blessed are those who give without hope of return: they will give people an
experience of God.
Fr. Flor McCarthy