Faith: The View from the ditch. Revisiting the Good Samaritan Story. – Alberta Daily Herald Tribune


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The Bible.
The Bible. Photo by RANDY VANDERVEEN

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Rev. Leo English, St. Joseph’s Catholic Church

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“Jesus disclosed that God is compassionate. Jesus spoke of God that way: “Be compassionate, as God is compassionate.” Compassion is the primary quality of the central figures in two of his most famous parables: the father in the parable of the Prodigal Son and the Good Samaritan. And Jesus himself, as a manifestation of the sacred, is often spoken of as embodying compassion.”

Marcus Borg

I want to rename this famous parable. I‘d like to call it –The view from the ditch.

The problem we have with familiar things is that all too often we take them for granted. We have heard the Good Samaritan story for what seems like forever. We may be tempted to zone out.

To look from a different point of view- -The view from the ditch, might be helpful. All of us at some point in our lives, for a multitude of reasons have been in that ditch. We have felt just like the one who was robbed. Think about that!

We have felt lonely, cut off, disconnected, on the margins –battered and bruised on the inside. So many people struggle with poor self-image, low self-esteem, and feelings of unworthiness! When you stop and think about it –yes -now I know what you are talking about –the view from the ditch –I‘ve been there!

We know that the parable of the Good Samaritan, is a lesson to teach us that we must love our neighbor. There is no one in the category of non-neighbor. Have we learned the central lesson of the parable —that God treats each of us with the compassion of the Samaritan?

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Almighty God is the Ultimate Good Samaritan.

“In the actions of the Good Samaritan we see God’s mercy in the whole history of salvation. It is the same compassion with which the Lord comes to meet each one of us: God does not ignore us; God knows our sorrows; God knows how much we need help and consolation. God comes close to us and never abandons us.

Each one of us can ask the question and answer in our heart: ‘Do I believe this? Do I believe that the Lord has compassion for me, just as I am, a sinner, with so many problems and so many things?’

Do we have faith in the compassion of God, of the good God who comes close, who heals us, who caresses us? If we refuse God, God waits: God is patient and is always at our side.”

Looking up from the ditch brings a very valued perspective. The Samaritan was so present to his own vulnerability, his own limitations, his own deep dependence on the mercy and goodwill of others that he was able to feel the victim’s pain as his own. The feeling of compassion became a radical act of solidary with another wounded person. Do you know who the Good Samaritan saw in the ditch –He saw himself.

The priest and the Levite saw, but ignored; looked but did not provide.

True worship does not exist if it is not translated into service to one’s neighbor.”

“What does it mean to ignore the suffering of another person? It means to ignore God! If I do not approach that man, or that woman, that child, that elderly man or elderly woman that is suffering, I do not come close to God.”

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Compassion is the heart of the parable, let us focus on this word that means “to share with”:

The Samaritan “‘had compassion,’” “that is, his heart, was moved; he was moved within! See the difference. The other two ‘saw,’ but their hearts remained closed, cold. Instead, the Samaritan’s heart was attuned to God’s heart itself.

‘Compassion’ is an essential characteristic of God’s mercy.” God “shares with” us, “He suffers with us; He feels our sufferings.”

The Samaritan’s concrete, personal actions teach us “that compassion like love, is not a vague feeling, but it means to take care of the other” “It means to commit oneself, taking all the necessary steps to ‘come close’ to the other, to the point of identifying with the other person ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Behold the Lord’s Commandment.”

“This parable is a great gift for all of us, and also a commitment,” “Jesus repeats to each one of us what He said to those who first heard his words: ‘Go and do likewise’ (v. 37).

We are all called to follow the same path of the Good Samaritan, who is a figure of Christ: Jesus made Himself our servant, and thus He saved us, so that we too are able to love as He loved us, in the same way.”

Compassion is the principal force in two of the most famous of all Parables –The Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son –May it be said of us if someone ever writes a book on our lives – that we were moved by compassion.

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