Daily Reflection
October 6th, 2003
Thomas A. Kuhlman
English Department
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Jonah 1:1--2:1, 11
Psalm 2:2, 3, 4, 5, 8
Luke 10:25-37

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 family.

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