15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
July 14, 2013
The story of the Good Samaritan is familiar to many. The phrase “Good Samaritan” is still used today to describe the laws that protect people are genuinely trying to do a good deed.
Familiar story yes but does it make you think? Do you love God with all your heart, being, strength, and mind? How about your neighbor?
Every time I hear this story, it strikes a cord for me. It reminds me of a day eight or ten years ago. I was in seminary in Washington, DC and went out to take a daily walk. As I began my walk I encounter a man lying on the sidewalk.
Other people were just walking past. Mind you this was the busiest street in the area. I had encounter people sleeping on park benches before but never on the sidewalk. Was he ok and just sleeping? Seeing people sleeping on a bench, you assume they are intentionally resting but in the middle of the sidewalk?
I wondered what to do. As I approached, I observed him. There were no signs of an injury. He was breathing normally. He didn’t “half-dead” like the man helped by the Good Samaritan.
I hate to say it but I decided to pass by without offering assistance. Perhaps I was making the standard excuse that I couldn’t do anything to help.
When I returned from my walk, he was gone. I don’t know if he just woke up and moved on or if someone stopped to help him.
Now, every time I hear the story of the Good Samaritan, this is what I think of. Was I like the priest or Levite? I could make the excuse that at least I didn’t cross to the other side of the road to avoid him. I walked right up to him to look for injuries but I didn’t offer help.
Normally when I encounter a person on the street looking for help or someone comes to the parish, I refer them to Catholic Charities. I don’t do this as a “cop-out”. We give money to Catholic Charities as a parish and I also do personally to help them. Catholic Charities can give them not just a hand-out but a hand-up in ways I can’t.
In the long-term, I think this is a great approach but sometimes I wonder about the short-term.
What would it take for you to stop and help? Do you try to help anyone in need (how)? Or do you cross to the other side to avoid them? Do you take the time to ‘assess their condition’ to see if they need immediate help? It might be as simple as calling an ambulance if they are injured.
How are you the Good Samaritan?