In light of today's Gospel on The Good Samaritan and because as humans we have, at one time or another, played all the roles in the parable...
The past few days the weather has been just gorgeous, and so in preparing for a bike ride this morning I decided to bring my camera. There is a certain spot along the canal that, if you didn't know better, you would think you were in the rugged wilderness of Colorado. And with the crisp, blue sky and the sun's rays dancing among the trees, I knew it would be a perfect morning for photos.
When I reached the area I wanted to photograph, I got off my bike to walk alongside the canal's edge. I took some pictures, then walked a little further and took some more. Suddenly, a cyclist whirled past me at a high speed, only to come to a screeching halt in a whirlwind of dust. He turned around, and came back toward me.
"Are you okay?" he asked me. "I saw you pushing your bike and thought you might need some help."
Of course, I was perfectly fine, but it didn't escape me that I was experiencing the biblical parable of The Good Samaritan in a very real and modern way.
As far as parables go, it's one that offers drama: a mugging, a near-death, and ultimately the rescue by a kind and caring stranger. Perhaps one of the reasons the parable resonates so well is because all of us, at some time or another, have played all the roles in the story. There have been times we have needed help, other times we have been the source of help, and sometimes (and this may be painful to admit) we have walked on by.
To further complicate matters, life is messy, and in our ongoing quest to find the perfect job, have the perfect marriage, raise perfect children, and develop perfect bodies we do not like to be reminded that, in fact, we are living in an imperfect world. We don't want to be in the position to need help, or to complicate our lives by becoming involved, or to face moral decisions of what is the right thing to do.
Ever since his election Pope Francis has said that he prefers a Church which is bruised and dirty from having been out on the streets; that we need to come out of our comfort zones – leave our schools, churches and homes – and go out to confront illness, poverty, ignorance, injustice, prejudice, pain. ll those elements of humanity which are messy. All those things which make people not experiencing them, uncomfortable. Offended, even.
Which is why the parable of The Good Samaritan reads like a modern-day how-to manual on what it means to truly love our neighbor.In the end, I was grateful this morning that I didn't need help from my kind Samaritan, but I was also very, very touched that he didn't know that, but went out of his way to stop anyway. And because he stopped, two strangers spent a few minutes talking, sharing, and marveling at the beautiful sunrise over the Savannah River.