October 3, 2022
by Suzanne Braddock
Creighton University's Medical School-Retired
click here for photo and information about the writer

Monday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 461

Galatians 1:6-12
Psalm 111:1b-2, 7-8, 9 and 10c
Luke 10:25-37

Praying Ordinary Time


The Good Samaritan

A good teacher always answers a question with another question in order to draw out from the pupil an answer rather than drop one on the pupil that will likely not be remembered as well as one that came from the pupil him/herself. So Jesus, when questioned by a scholar of the law seeking to test him, asked “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” responded with a question suited to this scholar of the law: “What is written in the law? How do you read it?” His reply:”You shall love the Lord your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”

Jesus replies” You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.”

The scholar, however, is still intent on testing Jesus and does not let his answer rest by asking “And who is my neighbor?”

I wonder if Jesus was annoyed by the scholar’s persistence – he was certainly not fooled by this question and perhaps a small grin touched his face at the opportunity to tell a parable – thus the well-known parable of the Good Samaritan. A social outcast becomes the hero by being the only person to help a man wounded and lying helpless , bleeding by the side of the road.

Once I took a course in understanding dreams and one takeaway from it was this: the cast of characters in your dream are really all manifestations of yourself. Applying this insight to the parable of the Good Samaritan reveals interesting aspects of ourselves: A wounded man lying helpless  “half dead” by the side of the road, a priest, a Levite (who performed subordinate service in the temple), and a Samaritan (looked on as inferior by Jews). I ask myself what in me is wounded? What are the obvious wounds and which are hidden but no less real? Which wounds do I try to hide from myself? Which wounds do not allow me to treat others with mercy? In hiding my wounds, am I like the priest or the Levite who crossed the road, shunning a bleeding man because to contact him would make me ritually impure? Does the law replace mercy? How are these dilemmas manifesting in the governance of my town? My schools?

Jesus, the consummate teacher, evokes the answer from the scholar by asking: “Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?” The scholar answers” The one who treated him with mercy.” Jesus said to him “Go and do likewise.”

I conclude that the exercise of mercy can take real courage and discernment. I pray that we all may have the wisdom and courage to exercise mercy at all costs.

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