First Reading: Dt 30:10-14; Psalm: 69. R. v. 33; Second Reading: Col 1:15-20; Gospel: Lk 10:25-37
WE ARE THE GOOD SAMARITAN OUR WORLD NEEDS
BY FR VALENTINE NNAMDI EGBUONU, MSP
A man fell into a pit and couldn’t get himself out. A subjective person walked by and said, “It’s logical that someone would fall down there.” A Pharisee said, “Only bad people fall into pits.” A mathematician calculated how he fell into the pit. A news reporter wanted the exclusive story on the pit. A taxman asked if he was paying taxes on the pit. A self-pitying person said, “You haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen my pit.” A fire-and-brimstone preacher said, “You deserve your pit.” A Christian Scientist observed, “The pit is just in your mind.” A psychologist noted, “Your mother and father are to blame for your being in that pit.” A self-esteem therapist said, “Believe in yourself and you can get out of that pit.” An optimist said, “Things could be worse.” A pessimist claimed, “Things will get worse.” Jesus, seeing the man, took him by the hand and lifted him out of the pit.
A lot of people today are in terrible conditions worse than being in a pit. Some kept themselves in that condition while others were shoved into it by those expected to serve and protect them. I come from a country that has been drained of life by political leaders. A country that has been robbed, stripped, beaten and left half dead by supposed leaders mandated to serve her. A country whose present condition is best compared to ‘a patient in a coma.’ A country struggling for life in an intensive care unit (ICU) because of the acquisitiveness of incompetent politicians whose sheer ineptitude have suffocated the economy of the country and have plunged her citizenry into a cruel state of life best defined as “survival of the fittest.” A country in a sorry state.
South Africa is no different. We had and are still experiencing political leaders who serve their pockets and wouldn’t mind leaving the people and the nation economically enervated and impoverished. They have knocked off that consciousness of human service from the minds of the people that every government parastatals are now more interested in money than services. Check out the operation of the municipality, the condition of Eskom, the police, our roads, hospitals, schools and many other institutions. They are all going down the drain. Everyone wants to cease an opportune moment to fill their pockets to the detriment of the well being of the entire nation. Only few are there to truly serve. This has put us in the condition we are today. A condition in need of rescue.
The man travelling from Jerusalem to Jericho in the gospel of today found himself in a terrible condition due to the wickedness and selfishness of man. People who would rather serve the society resorted to the infamous act of robbery and brutality. Perhaps, it was the state of affairs in the society at that time that induced them into that kind of life. The cruelty and selfishness of man with its circumstantial factors has destroyed so many societies and countries today; leaving us brutally wounded, robbed and half dead. A condition caused by none other than ourselves.
If our home, society or country is in a mess; if we are in a situation where life has become nasty, solitary, brutish, poor and short; prayers wouldn’t be the sole solution to these problems. Concrete and drastic actions need to be taken. And this should come from you and me. Do we think that the Priest and the Levite, religious men that they were, did practically nothing on seeing the pitiable condition of this traveller? Probably they said a short prayer in their minds and continued on their way. And just like in our short story at the beginning of this reflection, this is not what Jesus wants from us. God is not interested in our prayers or excuses why we can’t help. God simply wants us to extend a hand of rescue. When the condition of the human life is at stake, prayer is not needed when action can salvage the situation.
What we have today are more of Christians who pray without action, show pity without love and who believe in God without believing in themselves. We can spend hours praying in the Church and do very little or practically nothing in walking our prayers. We pray for good leaders but refuse to participate in the political process of electing one. We have beautiful ideas but would rather choose to sit with them than get ourselves into trouble. We call on God to intervene on issues that God has empowered us to handle. And we cry and lament over issues that would have been avoided. If there is poor economic management, insecurity, hardship, hunger, poverty and strife in the land, we all collectively played a part in them. The condition of many countries and homes today are worse than the condition of this dying traveller in the parable of today’s gospel.
Our world is in need of Good Samaritans. Those who can offer selfless services. Those who can beat their chest and say ‘enough of the dehumanization in our society.’ Those who can pause from the pursuit of self interest to save a soul, a people, or a nation. Those who can go beyond tribal and racial sentiments to seek the common good. Those who can put aside racial conflicts to serve one another. Those who are ready to put in their material and intellectual resources to bring about the needed change in a society. Those who can stand tall and unbending in confronting the existing unjust status quo. And those whose good works are louder than their voice of prayer. Our world is dearly in need of these people. And yes, they are no other people than you and me. What we need to do to change our world is not very far from us. It is in our mouth and in our hearts. Charity and love is divinely engraved in us as creatures of God.
The most shocking part of the parable of today’s gospel was that it was a Samaritan who helped this dying Jew. Sadly and disappointedly, this dying man watched the Priest and the Levite his fellow Jew pass him by without any help. It was a stranger and a supposed enemy who saved his life. For the Jews and the Samaritans were long time enemies. On a normal day, their paths usually don’t cross. Recall that in the gospel of two Sundays ago, the Samaritans refused Jesus entry into their land that James and John wished to send down fire to consume them. What is this saying to us? Help can come to us in a strange way; from the most uncommon people.
In life, the people we underrate and least expect are sometimes those who become successful. Help rarely comes from one’s kin but in many occasions from strangers. The best spouse is often not our tribe’s person. A potential best friend may actually be among a people unkindly stereotyped. A regarded enemy may in fact be a prospective best friend. The people religiously regarded as ‘infidels’ could be God sent to our lives. God works in mysterious ways. And this is why we must not downplay what we can achieve collectively as a group not minding our colour, tribe, language or religion.
If we want to grow as a nation, it is not about the demographic political advantage of a particular people. It is not about religion, ethnicity or race. It is not about the error of the past. It is not about the scar of sectional or tribal stereotype. It is about open-mindedness, objectivity, hard work, forgiveness, love, trust and belief in competence. So, we need to shake off our prejudged conception about a people and begin to look at one another with an objective lens. Our world has had enough of hatred and is now in search of compassion and love. We can offer this when we stop giving reasons why we can’t pull one another from the pit and begin to extend a hand of rescue just like this Good Samaritan. We can begin right about now. We are the change that our world needs.
PRAYER FOR THE DAY
Lord Jesus, grant us the grace to be Good Samaritans to our world. Amen.