Sunday, October 05, 2014

With Mercy

Am I now currying favor with human beings or God?  Or am I seeking to please people?  If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a slave of Christ.  Galatians 1:10

“Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?”  He answered, “The one who treated him with mercy.”  Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”  Luke 10:35-37

Help us to choose to treat all with mercy and compassion.

The very people one would EXPECT to help the victim pass by.  The priest and the Levite run away.  They are evidence that we cannot just hear the Word but that it must cause something in us to change.  The Word must lead us to act.

The story of the Good Samaritan comes right before the Lord and his disciples come into the village where they visit Mary and Martha.  It contrasts well with Martha’s plea for help.  The big difference between the two scenarios is that in the first, there is no discernment needed.  Showing mercy on the stranger who is left half-dead requires little consideration.  Yet, for those who would seem to know better, they clearly do not act like it.   

Mary and Martha, on the other hand, must choose between two good things.  Holy hospitality in serving the Lord and holy longing in listening to the Lord. Martha did not chose badly.  It is just a fact that Mary’s choice is the better (not the best) of the two options.  “Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.” (Luke 10:42B)

In addition to how this contrasts with the next story in Luke, the imagery from the parable of the Good Samaritan also alludes to significant images of both Christmas and Easter.

He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them.

We know that when Jesus was born, he was wrapped in “swaddling clothes and laid in a manger.”  The victim also is wrapped and comforted.  When Joseph of Aramithea and Nicodemus took Jesus down from the cross, he was wrapped in a burial cloth that Peter and John would find on the ground of the empty tomb.

Then he lifted him up on his own animal, took him to an inn, and cared for him.

On the way to Bethlehem, popular images have Mary riding on the donkey due to her advanced pregnancy.  The inn in today’s Good News had room for the stranger as opposed to the inn that had a no vacancy sign out for Joseph and Mary. 

By Palm Sunday, Jesus was lifted onto a donkey for the “triumphant” ride into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.  After his trial, Jesus lifted the cross onto his back for the walk up Calvary before he was “lifted” up onto the cross and then “lifted” up to Heaven on Ascension Thursday.   

The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction, ‘Take care of him.’

Judas traded his friendship for greed and collected thirty pieces of silver.  The Samaritan was not concerned with his personal treasury but only with the needs of another. 

“Compassion” comes from words which means to suffer with or to feel pity.  The Samaritan was moved to compassion in this story. 

Pope Francis has been giving some new and favorable attention to the subject of liberation theology.  Liberation theology, a term first used in 1973 by Gustavo Gutierrez, a Peruvian Roman Catholic priest, is a school of thought among Latin American Catholics according to which the Gospel of Christ demands that the church concentrate its efforts on liberating the people of the world from poverty and oppression.  Gutierrez emphasizes that theology is not just to be learned, it is to be done.[1]  Theologians are not to be mere theoreticians, but practitioners who participate in the ongoing struggle to liberate the oppressed.  

In today’s story, the Good Samaritan might be the first practitioner of liberation theology.  He freed himself from the stereotypes of society and helped a person people would have expected him to pass. What stereotypes do you need to overcome to help those in need in the world?

No comments: