“It’s their own fault”; “Their behaviour got them into that situation”; “It’s God punishing them”; “They must have done something to deserve it.” Do any of those comments sound familiar? Have you ever heard them said about an individual or group of people you know?
A Lawyer wanting to justify himself asks Jesus “Who is my neighbour?” and Jesus tells the parable of the Good Samaritan. But is he really asking whether there is a person or group of people that don’t qualify as a neighbour and therefore I don’t have to help or support them if they are in need?
The moment I start identifying a type of person or group of people that don’t qualify as my neighbour or are “my enemies”, I have fallen and I become the Priest, the Levite who walk on by, seemingly justified by convention, by purity laws. As soon as I articulate who I am obliged or not obliged to help, or worthy or not worthy of my help, I stop understanding what Jesus is saying and doing. I lose my way and I stop grasping and appreciating what being a disciple of Jesus means and is all about.
All too often we look for “opt out Clauses”, “rules” that justify not showing compassion, caring, showing love to someone or people who need it. Purity laws justified and exonerated any guilt the Priest and Levite might have felt at walking on by and leaving someone half dead. That is not an option for the follower, the disciple of Jesus. But it still happens. Let’s make sure we as individuals, as a community, as a Parish, don’t allow that to happen to us and that we always bandage the wounds, pour oil and wine on the person, lift them up on our own shoulders and carry them to the inn and look after them.