Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan gives us a name for all those people who step forward and volunteer to help others. And there are many of them around. Most of us have had the blessing of running into a “Good Samaritan”, people who helped us to jump-start our car, who gave us directions when we were lost, or went out of their way to give us a hand.
We all depend on Good Samaritans. Our society would be very hard and cold and difficult without them. We need Good Samaritans for our society to survive. Jesus’ story of the “Good Samaritan” teaches us a profound and challenging truth which is the point of the parable. The lawyer who asked Jesus “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” The answer is to love God and to love thy neighbour.
A man is mugged on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho. A priest and a lawyer pass by and do nothing. Then a Samaritan comes by and he helps out. Our neighbour is the person in need who crosses our path. Jesus has gone from the principle of “Love your Neighbour” to a poor battered man on the side of the road who needed immediate help, a very concrete and real human being. The lawyer and the priest in the parable were not vicious. They probably felt sorry for the man. They would have agreed that we should help our neighbour. But not this one. Not now. What about the next one.
When the challenge becomes very specific, concrete, local and personal we try to avoid the call. When a need crosses our path, we have a holiday booked, somewhere else to be etc. It is so easy to for us to avoid the call of the Gospel when it becomes specific and local. The man on the road reminds us that the will of God, the way to holiness, the imitation of Christ, discipleship, being a practicing catholic is found here and now in this husband, this wife, this family, this neighbourhood, this parish, this job, this project, these people, these friends, and these strangers. We could say, these readers, these Catechists, these Eucharistic Ministers, these Foodbank volunteers, these Altar Servers, these caterers, these parish volunteers.