Deut. 30:10-14; Col. 1; 15-20; Lk. 10:25-37
There once was a farmer who grew award-winning corn. Each year he entered his corn in the state fair where it won a prize.
One year a newspaper reporter interviewed him and learned something interestingabout how he grew it. The reporter discovered that the farmer shared his seed corn with his neighbours.
“How can you afford to share your best seed corn with your neighbours when they are entering corn in competition with yours each year?” the reporter asked.
“Why sir,” said the farmer, “didn’t you know? The wind picks up pollen from the ripening corn and swirls it from field to field. If my neighbours grow inferior corn, cross-pollination will steadily degrade the quality of my corn. If I am to grow good corn, I must help my neighbours grow good corn.”
The farmer was very much aware of the connectedness of life. His corn cannot improve unless his neighbour’s corn also improves.
So it is with our lives. Those who choose to live in peace must help their neighbours to live in peace. Those who choose to live well must help others to live well too. For the value of a life is measured by the lives it touches. And those who choose to be happy must help others to find happiness, for the welfare of each is bound up with the welfare of all.
This is the simple law of nature. But man became blind to this law of nature when selfishness entered into him. In order to bring back this equilibrium societies and religions put forward simple laws. Moses explains it to his people.
“Surely this commandment that I am commanding you today is not too hard for you, nor is it too far away. It is not in heaven, that you should say, 'Who will go up to heaven for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?'
Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, 'Who will cross to the other side of the sea for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?'
No, the word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart for you to observe." [Deut. 30:10-4]
God’s laws were given to help people love God with all their hearts and minds. Throughout Israel’s history, however, these laws had often been misquoted and misapplied. By Jesus’ time, religious leaders had turned the laws into a confusing mass of rules. When Jesus talked about a new way to understand God’s law, he was actually trying to bring people back to its original purpose. Jesus did not speak against the law itself but against the abuses and excesses to which it had been subjected. In all his teachings Jesus went beyond this normal duty. Jesus focus was man and his wellbeing.
In today’s Gospel we heard the story of the Good Samaritan. In this parable the Jewish teacher was eager to know Jesus’ opinion on something that worried him. “Who is my neighbour?” In other words whom am I bound to love and whom may I exclude from my love?” This was a topic of endless discussion among the theologians of the time. The Jewish teachers of the time had come to the conclusion that the command of loving one’s own neighbour extended only to fellow Jews. People of other nations could be hated at will. It was an obligation to do so with the people who caused harm to Israel.
Jesus corrected him by means of a parable. The parable of the Good Samaritan. This parable concentrates on two “religious people” who had not understood what religion was about and a nonbeliever who, through love, came close to God – The Samaritan.
“A man was once on his way down from Jerusalem to Jericho.” The distance from Jerusalem to Jericho is about 30 kilometres. Even many years after Jesus the road was called “The red road”, on account of the blood that had been shed along it in countless murders. Groups of bandits were always on the lookout for travellers. Like many others the man of the parable fell into their hands.
The first two people who saw the wounded man were a priest and a Levite. Probably they were going back home after a week of religious duties in the Temple. In their worship they had literally observed the rituals. But their worships have failed to give them the spirit of religious worship.
Today we have to reflect upon our life too. Where do our worship and practice stand? I like to share with you a horrible incident that happened near a famous church. It is difficult to get parking near the church especially on Sundays and days of obligation. So people wait for some to remove the car. A few cars were found waiting. In order to avoid traffic block they provide a passage for other cars to pass by. A person was found taking out a car from the parking. The first car prepared to park in the lot. But immediately another car from behind rushed, overtook others and parked in the parking lot. The man from the first waiting car got out, rushed at the intruder, and gave him a punch on his face. Unfortunately the blow caused him to faint and fall down. The ambulance that rushed to the spot confirmed that the man was dead. Great impudent actions from the people who came for worship. They came to worship but there was no feeling of tolerance.
We look around us we find many similar incidents in the church, in church compound and around us. We observe rituals – listen to sermon, kneel down, worship the Lord, offer peace to those who are near us and receive communion. But when it comes to showing tolerance, extending a helping hand to the needy where do we stand. The growing disputes among different Christian churches, different rites and different communities all question the authenticity of our religious life. When we give priority to trivial material things we are certainly falling into the group of the Priest and the Levite in the parable.
Notice with what details does Jesus expresses the concern of the Samaritan for the wounded man.
-He was moved by compassion for the wounded man.
-Bandaged his wound
-Put him on his donkey and carried him to the inn
-Looked after the man entrusted him to the inn-keeper and covered all expenses involved.
We have many wounded around us.
Old people without home, care, food or medicine; Children who are not able to get education; The sick who are struggling for food and medicine; People who are abandoned; People who are mentally depressed and suffering; People who have lost their mental balance and many more.
With the growing number of seniors, do we as Christians perceive the loneliness that many elders are experiencing? Some have been abandoned by their children. Others are unable to reach out and socialize because of their old age or their ill health. Is anyone offering to drive them to Church on Sundays so they can fulfil their Sunday obligation? Is anyone making the necessary arrangements so they can receive the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist if they are bedridden? Most often “No”. Because everyone of us is caught up in the vicious circle of the fast moving world.
My brothers and sisters, many are the needs of our neighbours. We cannot meet all their financial requirements. But we can share their concerns.
The way of salvation is open to all, and all must pay the same price to obtain it: We must love everyone without exception. Jesus keeps on repeating it to each one of us: “Go and do the same.”
It is said that, one day, an illiterate woman, asked a theologian: “Father, what must a poor woman like me do to attain salvation?”
The Theologian answered, “It is very simple: all you have to do to be saved is just to will it”
All we have to do is “will it” and we will find ways.