2:2, 3, 4, 5, 8
The phrase "Good Samaritan" is a cliche. The concept "Love
they neighbor" inspires everyone, it seems, judging from week-end news broadcasts
with their stories of runs, walkathons, and charity dinners. Especially
on Jesuit campuses, we hardly need to be told any longer that service is
a prime commandment after loving God himself.
A few days after first reflecting on this Gospel, I happened to be visiting
a friend who belongs to his parish's prayer chain. I noticed on his
desk the list of half a dozen or so people he and other members of the chain
were to pray for that week. Only first names were listed, each followed
by a few words expressing the reason for their need for prayer -- Jim, Randy,
Marge, Cindy, Gus and Barbara -- and then Paul. Suddenly I realized
that I knew Paul. Both at home, at work and even with someone at the
supermarket my wife and I had been talking about Paul's upcoming surgery.
Now I was interested in my friend's prayer chain, which I had been regarding
up to then as a sweet and pious gesture but not really my kind of devotion.
Paul needed my prayers. He was a man I liked very much. We had
a lot in common. I liked his attitude towards his young family.
I envied his skill at gardening and his creativity in barbecuing. Almost
desperately I wanted him to come through this operation and share in good
times with his friends again. His was a name on the list I'd surely
pray hard for.
Then suddenly I remembered Jesus's story of the Good Samaritan. The
Samaritan did not help the robbers' victim because the victim was a good
friend, or because the victim had admirable talents or was fun to be with.
He was merely a human being and a child of God.
That week I prayed for Jim, Randy, Marge, Cindy, Gus and Barbara. I
know none of them. This over-familiar story of the Good Samaritan, this supposedly
trite teaching of our Lord will in fact never go stale so long as brothers
and sisters whom I may never meet are in need. I thank Jesus for telling
me this story, so that I may follow Him in holding in my thoughts, prayers
-- and actions -- not only those I know well but all the members of the human