Thursday, July 11, 2013

Not passing by

by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Buenas Noticias: Blog de Jose Antonio Pagola
July 14, 2013

Luke 10:25-37

"Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful." This is the legacy Jesus has left to humankind. To understand the revolution he wants to introduce into history, we must read his story of the "Good Samaritan" carefully. It describes the attitude we are to project -- beyond our beliefs and ideological or religious positions -- to build a more humane world.

On the side of a lonely road lies a human being who has been robbed, assaulted, stripped of everything, half dead, abandoned to his fate. In this wounded man without name or country, Jesus summarizes the situation of so many innocent victims who have been unjustly treated and abandoned by the side of so many roads throughout history.

On the horizon, two travelers appear -- first a priest, then a Levite. The two belong to the respected world of the official religion of Jerusalem. The two act in an identical manner: "They see the wounded man, make a detour, and pass him by." The two close their eyes and hearts. That man doesn't exist for them; they pass without stopping. This is Jesus' radical criticism of any religion that's unable to generate a compassionate heart in its members. What's the sense of a religion with so little humanity?

Along the road comes a third person. He isn't a priest or a Levite. He doesn't even belong to the Temple religion. However, when he comes, "he sees the wounded man, is moved, and approaches him." Then he does everything he can do for that stranger to save his life and restore his dignity. This is the dynamic that Jesus wants to introduce in the world.

The first thing is not closing one's eyes. Knowing how to "look" attentively and responsibly at those who are suffering. This view can free us from the selfishness and indifference that allow us to live with a clear conscience and the illusion of innocence in the midst of so many innocent victims. At the same time, "being moved" and letting their suffering hurt us too.

What's important is to react and "approach" those who are suffering -- not to ask ourselves whether or not we have any obligation to help them, but to discover up close that they are beings in need who are calling us. Our concrete action will reveal our human quality.

All this isn't theoretical. The Samaritan in the story doesn't feel obligated to fulfill a certain religious or moral code. He simply responds to the situation of the wounded man, coming up with all manner of practical gestures geared to alleviating his suffering and restoring his life and dignity. Jesus ends with these words: "Go and do likewise."

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