Saturday, July 9, 2016

WHO IS MY NEIGHBOR? A REFLECTION ON THE PARABLE OF THE GOOD SAMARITAN

THE PARABLE OF THE HIGH PRIEST, THE LEVITE AND THE GOOD SAMARITAN: SUNDAY REFLECTION
By Herbert B. Rosana, Ph.D.
The gospel reading today in our lectionary was taken from the gospel according to Luke 10:25-37. Commonly this is referred to as the parable of the good samaritan. In the gospel reading a young man was asking Jesus how a person can obtain eternal life. Jesus answered by asking him what the Law of Moses requires and he answered correctly that one has to love God above all things and then the neighbor. One important point to consider in this reading is the emphasis on the connection between religious practice and practical deeds. How easy it is to be religious. How comforting it is to be religious. How easy it is to say that we are serving God because we are worshiping Him. How easy it is to say we are obedient to the law. But one requirement we have in order to be acceptable to God is that we are required to love our neighbor. The difference between the observance of religious obligation and the practical side of it is that the former is easy to comply with, but the latter is difficult because it requires us to move beyond our comfort zone, to empathize and to be in solidarity with our neighbor.
The second point in this reflection is the question of who is our NEIGHBOR. Human nature as it is, always follow that which is easy. Hence we choose our friends and associates from the rich, the well to do and from those who could help advanced our interests. Seldom do we see the marginalized and those in the fringes of society as our neighbor. But essentially the parable given by our Lord tells us that these very people whom we ignore and we see as unimportant are the ones truly important in God's sight. Let us remember the scripture which says that what is esteemed by men is an abomination with God (Luke 6:15).
Painting by Vincent Van Gogh
The third point in this reflection is that we should never judged people because of their status in life. God would want us to see the value and innate goodness in every human being. This is the main reason perhaps why our Lord use the Samaritan as the image of good neighborliness. But who are the Samaritan? It will be a long explanation but let me be brief. After the Assyrian invasion of the Land of Samaria, the Israelite were deported, hence we have the term "the lost ten tribes of Israel". Only Juda, Benjamin and Levi were the tribes who remained in the Kingdom of Judah. Since then the original ten tribes never returned, But the population that rehabilitated the land of Samaria were non-Israelites, they were gentiles who imitated the religion of the Israelites from Samaria, and have set up a rival temple in Samaria. Hence during the Hasmonean period and up the Roman era, the Jews living in Galilee and Judah despised the Samaritans as fake Jews, unclean and pagans. Samaria was sandwhich between Galilee and Judea. Jews coming from Galilee would even avoid passing on the west bank if only to avoid contact with the Samaritans. It is not surprising that Jesus used the image of the Samaritan to illustrate good neighborliness. Perhaps the Lord was trying to emphasize to us that everyone of us regardless of our origins and belief is a reflection of God's goodness and because of that we have the capacity to do good and be good to others. Good neighborliness is not choosy, it values every human person as it is. Every human being is worthy of redemption, this is the reason why our Lord was crucified and that today we use that symbol of crucifixion as the sign of God's redeeming love, a door of opening and a hope for a new life and finally resurrection in the Kingdom of God. May he leads us into that way. Thank you Lord for showing us the way. Amen.

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