BY: Fr. Gerald Musa



One very inspiring Christian song has the following words: “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in every place you can, at all the times you can, to everyone you can, as long as you ever can – do all the good you can.” This song summarises the message of Jesus to everyone, which is to do good to everyone, irrespective of tribe, race, and religious affiliation.

An expert of the law came to Jesus with a salient question that touches the very root of the purpose of being. “Master,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus gave him the most perfect answer that no one else could give him on earth: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbour as yourself.” This answer from Jesus perfectly and broadly covers the vertical and horizontal dimensions of love. The vertical dimension is about the love of God, and the horizontal dimension is the love of neighbour. Are you surprised that an expert of the law is asking Jesus such a fundamental question about salvation? Afterall, in the sight of the omniscient God, an expert is simply someone who knows so much about so little.

This expert of the law went further to ask a fundamental question in the area of human relationships: “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus provides an answer with the illustration of the story of the Good Samaritan. Jesus gave the story of a Good Samaritan who bandaged the wounds of a Jew to demonstrate how love requires us to go beyond the boundaries of tribe, race, and religion. It is well known in history that the Samaritans loved to hate the Jews and the Jews loved to hate the Samaritans. The bias that existed between the Jews and the Samaritans is reflected in the response that the Samaritan Woman at the well gave to Jesus when he asked her for water. She said to him: “How can you a Jew ask me a Samaritan for a drink” (For Jews use nothing in common with Samaritans – Jn. 4:9).

The road from Jerusalem to Jericho was renowned for being a dangerous road infested with robbers. Besides, some of these robbers often posed as injured victims. This was enough reason for the Samaritan not to act for security and safety reasons. He had reasons to be afraid of the sight of blood. The Samaritan performed an act of charity, which could best be described as a labour of love. This love cost him not less than everything. He sacrificed his time, even when he had to delay his business appointment, he used his talent by bandaging the wounds of the victim and applying oil and wine, and he sacrificed his resources by footing the medical bill of the man.

To Love is to be Vulnerable
No doubt, love sometimes puts us in very vulnerable and risky situations, especially when we come in contact with strangers and those we naturally suspect. Sometimes we become afraid of expressing love because of the fear that our love may be turned down. Love is a risk as much as life itself is a risk. Many of us today have recoiled to ourselves and have retired from being good because of some trouble we fell into as a result of being or doing good. Jesus and many other prophets, teachers, and leaders in history suffered rejection despite the love they showed to their people.

The love, which the Good Samaritan demonstrated, was unconditional. His act of charity was not done for any material gain. Unlike the wisdom of the world, which says, ‘You give something to get something in return.’ Nigerians would say “nothing goes for nothing.” Teddy Pendergrass, a musician captures this wisdom of the world in the lyrics of his popular music. He sang, ‘it’s so good loving somebody when somebody loves you back.’ Was the Samaritan expecting any love in return? He loved for the sake of love and for the sake of God. In the story of the Good Samaritan Jesus teaches unconditional love which means loving somebody as God loves him or her, seeing people as God sees them, and caring for others as God cares for us.

The first point of this parable is mercy towards the needy; the second important point is that non-Jews have a share in eternal life. This means that those who do good, whether they are within the Catholic or Christian fold or not, have a hope of salvation. The fact remains that we cannot love God without loving our neighbor and we cannot love our brothers and sisters without the help of God who is the author of love and who is love himself. Just as the disciples humbly asked Jesus, “teach us how to pray” we also ought to ask daily, “Lord teach us how to love.” True love is an action, not just a feeling.

15th Sunday of the Year C; Deuteronomy 30:10-14; Colossians 1:15-20; Luke 10:25-37

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