A Lenten struggle
We will very soon enter the climactic week of lent. I wrote early in Lent that it is a time to take a refresher or advanced course on learning to think like Jesus. Put on the mind of Christ. Now that is literally a lifetime task!
I also wrote I am still being surprised how each of Jesus’ stories are “the gift that keeps on challenging.” At this point in Lent, I continue to discover the enormous challenge of the “feel good” parable we know as the Good Samaritan.
Who is my neighbor?
Jesus told the story to help the lawyer think through the question. Rather than arguing with him point by point Jesus told him a story, a shocking story, about a “Good” Samaritan. In the devout Jew’s mind, there was no such thing as a Good Samaritan. And at the end of the exchange, Jesus is even telling this pious inquirer to be like a non-believer!
Jesus made the Samaritan the hero! Not any of the true believers who passed by a person in great need stopped. Jesus was challenging the “believing Jew” to rethink his own attitude about “who is my neighbor”. The implications were enormous.
Pope Francis picks up the story today.
(The numbers below refer to sections in his latest encyclical Fratelli Tutti.)
#69 “The parable is clear and straightforward, yet it also evokes the interior struggle that each of us experiences as we gradually come to know ourselves through our relationships with our brothers and sisters.
…“Sooner or later, we will all encounter a person who is suffering. Today there are more and more of them. The decision to include or exclude those lying wounded along the roadside can serve as a criterion for judging every economic, political, social and religious project. Each day we have to decide whether to be Good Samaritans or indifferent bystanders.”
#70 “Now there are only two kinds of people: those who care for someone who is hurting and those who pass by; those who bend down to help and those who look the other way and hurry off.
…Here, all our distinctions, labels and masks fall away: it is the moment of truth. Will we bend down to touch and heal the wounds of others? Will we bend down and help another to get up?
…This is today’s challenge, and we should not be afraid to face it. In moments of crisis, decisions become urgent. It could be said that, here and now, anyone who is neither a robber nor a passer-by is either injured himself or bearing an injured person on his shoulders.”
71. “The story of the Good Samaritan is constantly being repeated.”
#77 “Like the chance traveler in the parable, we need only have a pure and simple desire to be a people, a community, constant and tireless in the effort to include, integrate and lift up the fallen.
81. “Jesus asks us to be present to those in need of help, regardless of whether or not they belong to our social group.
#84. Finally, I would note that in another passage of the Gospel Jesus says: “I was a stranger and you welcomed me” (Mt 25:35).
85. “For Christians, the words of Jesus have an even deeper meaning. They compel us to recognize Christ himself in each of our abandoned or excluded brothers and sisters (cf. Mt 25:40.45).”
If Jesus’ story reveals “The mind of Christ” what are the implications when I see Jesus suffering?
Click below for an audio version of this Vincentian Mindwalk