Today’s Gospel reading (Luke 10: 25-37) contains the familiar story of the Good Samaritan. I found myself, as I reflected upon its message, particularly during this week of great tragedy, focusing less on the specific actions of the Samaritan and more upon the visual of those who passed the victim by on the street. From Luke 10:
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 when 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.
To the children in our parish (during Family Mass), I held up a brown paper bag containing two items and asked one (old enough to read) to pull one of them out. I positioned the bag to ensure that the greeting card was taken first. I asked the child to read the front and inside. The front, as can be clearly seen above, simply read: “I love you.” The inside noted: “There. Now you have it in writing.”
For the children, to whom I asked a series of leading questions, I described the importance of frequently saying and reminding others just how much we love them.
Another child was instructed to take the remaining item in the bag and to hold it up for all to see. It was a bar of soap. With this, I made the point that there is a second way of saying “I love you” and that is by “getting your hands dirty”. I offered a few examples and then likened the actions of the Good Samaritan to the second form. The priest and Levite who passed the victim by may very well have spoken and written of love (given their profession or likely faith tradition) but it was the Samaritan who actually did something about it.
To the adults:
The events of the past week are sad reminders of how divided we are. Discussions regarding sports, business, culture, politics, even faith… are often are marked by terms of division. Of the language of rightness and wrongness. Of being on one side or the other. Hatred frequently results when the fervor and intensity rises in such debates about division. We were reminded of that in Minnesota, Louisiana and Texas over the past few days. What happened and why did it happen? We can’t seem to agree on that either.
And we are reminded about this all around our country and world every single day. Ask the refugees from Syria what division and hatred feels like.
I think about that road from Jerusalem to Jericho. I see a visual of those walking in one direction and those walking in the other. They are separated. Or worse, I think about those walking down that road and ignoring a man who lies badly beaten and dying toward one side of it. To ignore him is division.
Jesus’ lesson today is about connection. About breaking through the line that divides… and then uniting. And for the Samaritan, it certainly meant getting involved. Getting his hands dirty.
The parable today reminds us about the importance of getting our hands dirty for Christ. Jesus told this story in answer to a simple question: “What must I do to inherit eternal life.”
Today, let’s reflect on all the good ways that you and I say it (holding up the greeting card).
Let’s reflect on all the good ways you and I show it (holding up soap).
We need to do both. And our world desperately needs both…