A Teenager’s Homily: The Good Samaritan

“…Jesus said to (the scholar), ‘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.’
(Jesus) replied to him, ‘You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.’

“But because (the scholar) wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus,
‘And who is my neighbor?’

“Jesus replied,
‘A man fell victim to robbers as he went from Jerusalem to Jericho. They stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half-dead. A priest happened to be going down that road, but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side.
Likewise, a Levite came to the place, and he saw him, he passed by on 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. The he lifted him up on his own animal, took him to an inn, and cared for him.
Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?’

“He answered, ‘The one who treated him with mercy.’
Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.”
Luke 10:25-37

Every now and then, we Catholics hear one of those really surprisingly powerful and eerily relateable Gospels during mass. Imagine how many we’d hear if we went to mass EVERY WEEK or even every day! The funny thing is that while one Gospel or reading can be just another 2-3 minutes listening to words for one person, it could mean the world to and speak to the heart of the person sitting directly next to you.

The Gospel we heard this past Sunday was one of those Gospels. One of the ones that really seems to leap off of the page and give us all a nice smack across the face; an ecclesiastical wake-up call (and, especially now, who doesn’t need one of those?).

The scholar the who tests Jesus thinks he’s a mr. big-shot…”oh look at me, questioning the Son of Man!” Yeah, hot shot, that’s called blasphemy, and is typically frowed upon. That scholar who puts himself so high above others and attempts to understand Jesus’ wishes for love and the Law of God is thinking too much on the large scale playing field, which is what most of try to do. We’ve heard forever to “look at the bigger picture” when, ultimately, there is smaller perspective to the bigger picture.

Jesus uses his infinite Jesus-ness to demonstrate this by taking one of the most difficult questions to understand and equates it to something as simple as a man in need lying in the dirt on a road. He talks about three very common types of people:
1) The Priest. Undoubtedly, the scholar was SHOCKED when he heard that the priest, the HOLY MAN OF GOD not only walked by, but moved to the opposite side of the road.
2) The Levite. Same deal as above. Common type of person, walking by…moving to the opposite side of the road.

The Priest and the Levite (unfortunately) represent the vast majority of our society today. Always saying they’ll do this and that for him or her, but when push comes to shove and something actually has to get done..they simply move to the opposite side of the street, and keep going on their way, personal (no doubt political) agendas in mind. Sort of sounds like the current government in the State of Illinois, doesn’t it?

Jesus saves the minority, the underdog, for last: the Samaritan. There is a little bit of a Samaritan in all of us, no? The thing is that for most of us, there really is only a LITTLE BIT of a samaritan. It was probably no surprise for the scholar when the Samaritan stopped to helped the poor man on the side of the road. Most Samaritans would surely do that. But how many would take the man to an inn, care for him, leave money, and repay the innkeeper on his way back? Not many.

This is where we see the closeness and relationship to our lives, not only in America, but across the world. How many people do we encounter that would call themselves a samaritan? Many. How many of those would stop to help the man on the road? Most likely very few.

Society has become so tense and high strung because of wars and political debates; so high strung, in fact, we have forgotten one of Jesus’ main and most important teachings, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” Love those around you and embrace them as you do yourselves.

When we, just as the scholar did, ask, “And who is my neighbor?” all we have to do is look around. It is easy to hate, love requires effort. The mark of a strong person is to be able to set aside fears or differences and lend a hand to an ailing or helpless human being. We can all be Samaritans…all we have to do is find our road.

“Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?’

“He answered, ‘The one who treated him with mercy.’
Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.”

Go and do likewise.

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