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LOVE IS UNCONDITIONAL

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LOVE IS UNCONDITIONAL

GAL 1:6-12
LK 10:25-37

In order to disconcert our Lord, a lawyer approached Jesus asking, What must I do to enter eternal life?

Today we encounter one of the best known of Jesus’ parables – that of the Good Samaritan – a parable that Pope Francis suggests should be the model for the church in action in the world today.The parable certainly encourages us to be alert to those who need our care and calls us to put into action the deep love and compassion God has planted in our own hearts.

However, today, let us reflect on one of the hidden dimension of this story. Apart from the obvious messages, what other ‘colours’ or messages did Jesus paint into this word-picture of compassion in action?

LONE TRAVELER

We might begin with the image of the lone traveller. The first audience were gasping in shock at the mere thought of someone setting out alone along this road – notorious as it was for robbery (as the story itself suggests). One did not venture along this route without companions and most travelled in caravan.So, in the figure of a lone traveller we might well see an image of the many in our society who try to live life ‘by themsleves’. The capacity for self-actualisation, independent thought and resilience is one thing, but loneliness and isolation in life is another more dangerous and damaging reality. It is said we have an epidemic of loneliness these days, and perhaps our lone traveller might just represent those people in our midst today. He calls our attention to those who feel they are without support, without networks of friends and good companions in life.

ISOLATION

In fact, there is a lot of isolation in this story isn’t there? For as the story unfolds, we see that the Levite, the Priest and indeed the Samaritan all appear to be travelling alone along this road.Such aloneness is a concern, and we can take from the parable a clear reminder to be of service and outreach to those who face life’s struggles by themselves.

DEVOUT JEW

More so, Jesus told this dramatic story in response to a devout Jew who wanted to understand how to apply God’s great commandment of love to his everyday life circumstances. A devout Jew keeps this commandment of love of God and neighbour as oneself. The real question for this believer was therefore, who is my neighbour? Being a strict Jew, Christ knew that his interpretation of neighbour was stereotyped like that of the priest and the Levite. As the priest placed ritual purity ahead of saving his neighbour, the Levite put personal safety ahead of saving his neighbour, and in the end their prejudices got in the way of mercy. Rather it was a Samaritan, considered an outcast, that saw in his neighbour the need to help and save a life before anything else. What do you see in your neighbour?

LOVING AND CARING IS PRACTICAL

What does this story tell us about true love for one another? True love does not care about provenance, or to know if the victims brought the harm upon themselves through their own fault or negligence. It doesn’t discriminate or judge. True love is practical and concrete. It doesn’t end with words but it translates into doing what is for the best good of our neighbour. Do you act so?

LOVE IS UNCONDITIONAL

More so, true love is unconditional. That is, it is as wide and as inclusive as God’s love who is always ready to do good for other’s sakes and not for His own sake not minding where they are from. This is the love taught us by God Himself in Christ who was willing to share in our condition and suffering in order to restore us to wholeness of life and happiness. Do we love as Christ loved us?

THE RESPONSE OF THE SAMARITAN

The response of the Samaritan, immediate and far above what might be expected, tells us that there are dramatic situations of real and acute need that must find a response in the moment, just as his provision of money and the promise of a return also tell us that an effective response also calls for ongoing care.The story Jesus told also ends with a question – one for our reflection too. It is not so much that the wounded traveller is our neighbour – rather that Jesus wants us to be a neighbour to all who are in need. Being neighbour is a giving role, not a receiving one.
Let us, “Go and do likewise.”

May we be drawn to imitate also His manner of love for all. Amen

Fr Joseph Osho

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