Scriptures: Luke 10:25-37
Author’s note: Preceding this reflection, I had children enact with me via puppetry the story of the Good Samaritan. After they were invited to the children’s corner in back of the sanctuary, I reflected on some “back story” behind the text: Namely, there are a few things to keep in mind when considering this story. First, the priests and Levites could not actually perform any of their functions in the Temple if they were ritually unclean. Touching someone with sores or blood of any kind would have made them unclean, thus unable to work. In addition to that, the Samaritans were estranged cousins and often even enemies of the Israelites. Even though they had common ancestry in Jacob, who traveled through Samaria and dug their historic wells, they held deep theological differences about where and how to worship (in Samaria on their hills or in the Temple in Jerusalem as the Temple authorities believed/wished all to do). A Samaritan performing such acts of mercy and compassion for a traveler of his estranged cousin Israelites would have been doubly distasteful to an Israelite.
St. Teresa of Avila once wrote:
“Christ has no body on earth but yours; no hands but yours; no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which the compassion of Christ looks out to the world. Yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good. Yours are the hands with which he is to bless others now.”
I don’t know about you, but St. Teresa gives me a startling reminder of Christ’s words from today’s familiar text, “Go and do likewise.” Here we have the wounded one, the lost one, the forlorn one, the forsaken one – left by the side of the road. It doesn’t take much reading into the text to see a certain resemblance to Jesus himself in this example of a beaten, stripped, robbed, and deserted fellow human being; this child of God made in God’s likeness.
Perhaps as Jesus told the story to the lawyer, he was also telling his own story in terms a doctor of the law would understand. He certainly gets the picture in the end. Jesus asked him, “Which of these, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers? ” 37He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus tells him, “Go and do likewise.”
That’s what it comes down to, isn’t it? Once again, we are reminded to love God and neighbor. Sometimes it takes someone outside our comfort zone to snap us back to the holy grid we set ourselves on when we initially said yes to Jesus Christ. Sometimes it takes someone outside our own fold to remind us of the highest and noblest calling our own faith journey teaches us. Thank God for Samaritans…for any “outsiders” who are, inevitably, also just like us: fellow human beings, children of God made in God’s image.
We aren’t supposed to just serve those we know and love. We are called to serve any who are in need, even those we may be uncomfortable serving – all in the name of love. Not just any love, but the unconditional love of God, reflected on through us; who have first been unconditionally loved.
And who is our neighbor? In the end, it doesn’t matter. Looking through Christ’s eyes, all people, all beings of the world made in God’s likeness are those for whom we truly must reflect the wisdom of St. Teresa:
“Christ has no body on earth but [ours]; no hands but [ours]; no feet but [ours]. [Ours] are the eyes through which the compassion of Christ looks out to the world. [Ours] are the feet with which he is to go about doing good. [Ours] are the hands with which he is to bless others now.”
To Christ, who served all, including and perhaps especially the outcast, the lost, the forsaken, the beaten, the robbed, the left-overs; even those outside the fold, God’s love was ever greater, ever more encompassing, ever more merciful than any human institutional understanding could comprehend.
That is why we are called to be Christ’s servants, to be as Christ one to another. May all glory be unto the One who lived, died, and rose again for us, even Him who is the Christ. Amen? May it be so.