Reflection on the Gospel of the Good Samaritan, Luke 10:25-37

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time
15 July 2007

By Clare Condon SGS

The Parable of the Good Samaritan must be one of the most reflected upon and written about Gospel passages. Yet in our church’s liturgical cycle, we hear it just once in every three years at Sunday Eucharist. This is the year.

As a Religious Congregation dedicated to this Parable of Jesus, and as we are celebrating 150 years since our Foundation, we can never reflect too often upon its meaning for us. Our tradition of ‘lectio divina’ invites us constantly to bring the Word of God into dialogue with our daily reality, and to respond with the mind and heart of Christ.

This story of Jesus can be viewed through the lens of an act of kindness, compassion and generosity. Such a response is vital and a constant call on our being. Yet, I believe also that this story calls for a very deep inner conversion of attitude and cultural bias out of which I can define human relationships. We can unwittingly place all sorts of limitations on our relationships.

The Jews and the Samaritans had defined each other on ethic and cultural grounds. They seemed to instinctively know what each other could expect from the other. They had in a real sense ‘boxed’ each other in to a predetermined set of expectations and enmities. In the eyes of a Jew, a Samaritan could not do good.

The parable, as the Word of God is like ‘a two edged sword piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.’(Heb 4:12). It invites me to cut deeply into my own heart and to identify where any prejudice, bias or resistances to love may reside; where I might be unprepared to open up and to be changed by the Word of God.

Perhaps a question for today is “Who is not my neighbour and why?” Who are those excluded from my love? Who are those, whose perceived unacceptable behaviours might irritate me and so I leave them out in the cold? Against whom do I discriminate and why?

The parable in this context also has a societal dimension. At the present time our Australian society is confronted by the continuation of dramatic disadvantage and poverty of our remote indigenous communities. No doubt other countries have their experiences of exclusion and disadvantage. I concur with the recent statement from the Australian Bishops of 7th July 2007, that we need to demand that any community or government response is always “respectful of Indigenous culture and identity.” Institutional racism cannot be acceptable. We as a nation cannot continue to allow a “rejection of difference (that) can lead to that form of cultural annihilation which sociologists have called ‘ethnocide’ and does not tolerate the presence of others except to the extent that they allow themselves to be assimilated into the dominant culture.”

This parable is part of the prophetic tradition of the scriptures, which calls each and every one of us to allow God as the Kind Samaritan to heal our hearts and our minds from all discrimination, prejudice and cultural bias, so that we can receive our neighbours in just relationships and with integrity of heart.

Sr Clare Condon SGS

Source: Good Samaritan Sisters, http://www.goodsams.org.au/spirituality/spirituality.htm

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