Friday, December 6, 2013

The Good Samaritan - A Reflection for Christmas

One of the more popular stories in the New Testament is the one of the merciful Samaritan. As we approach the time of Christmas, of goodness and God breaking into the universe of our largely myopic world, the story that Jesus shared is worth thinking about.

“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers? The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:30-37)

Instead of commenting on it myself, allow me to share the commentary of someone else, as a small meditative gift for your Christmas time reflections.

“Today's Gospel in short, contains everything which is the way of the Christian. The first commandment is that we should love our God with all our heart, with all our mind, with all our strength, with all our being, and our neighbour as ourselves. To love means to prefer all that is dear to the beloved person, to what is dear to us. To love God means that we should live, and indeed be such that He could rejoice in what we are, that there should be nothing alien to Him in our lives.

"And here comes the second commandment, which the lawyer did not understand: that we should love our neighbour as ourselves. To love again our neighbour, forgetting ourselves. Very often we think that we are worthy Christians if we feel that we have in our hearts a warmth, that we love God. But this is not enough. The test of this love is to share God's own love for every one of our neighbours. I remember a sad moment in my own life, when my father asked me: what was the dream of my life? I was young then, and I said, 'To be with God alone.' And he looked sadly at me and said, 'You have not begun to be a Christian.' Because if we love God we must share with Him all His concerns for the whole world and for each person in this world.

"Let us, therefore, take this short event in the life of Christ and the parable as a rule. We will never be able to know how much we love God. It is difficult, because it is so easy to delude oneself. Even when we say that we love someone, a moment may come when selfishness, indifference, a quarrel may make an end, at least for a time, to our mutual friendship and closeness. But there is a criterion which is objective. How do you treat your neighbour? What does he mean to you? If he means nothing, if he is a passer-by, if he is only someone in your way, or if he is someone to whom you can pay attention when you are in the right mood, then we have not begun to love God and to love the world together with Him. Let us therefore think of it, ask ourselves pertinent questions, and redress our lives. Amen.” (Metropolitan Anthony of Souroh)