Reflection 14th July 2019

A Reflection for the Fifteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Lk: 10: 25-37 ( )

The Good Samaritan

In 1994, at the height of the genocide in Rwanda, I was invited by John O’Shea, then Director of the aid agency Goal, to Goma in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Rwandan refugees had fled there from the conflict. I joined Irish soldiers to collect the bodies of those who had died during the night and to bring them for burial in mass graves. My other task was to go in the evenings to do a blessing on the graves; the vast majority of those who died were Rwandan Catholics.

After a few weeks of being in Goma’s camps, I realised that there were some Rwandan priests in the city. As I got to know them, I asked one of them one day why they did not go out and bless the people – their own people – as they were being buried in the mass graves.  His reply astonished me. He said that one of the reasons they were not willing to go to bless the graves was that they could not be sure that all those being buried in the mass graves were Catholic!

Our Gospel story today highlights the different reasons that people can give to keep within their own boundaries and not assist others in their hour of need. The priest in the Gospel story walked past on the other side because, for a priest of the Jewish temple, to be near death would make him unclean and therefore unable to perform his duties in the Temple. Others would say that the reason that he passed by on the other side was that when he looked at the man lying on the side of the road – he knew he had already been robbed – he knew that he had no more money on him! Others give their own excuses.

As Christians we need to constantly step beyond our own comfort zone in order to reach out to those who are hurting and wounded by life or by society. Everyone is our neighbour. I think this is also illustrated in today’s first reading: Moses tells the people that the Law is written in our hearts and that there is no need to go up to heaven to get it.

It is most likely that Moses and the community in Israel wrote the 10 Commandments themselves and by bringing them up the mountain (as stated in Deuteronomy) they were then seen to be coming from God. All the commandments – do not kill, do not steal, do not commit adultery etc - are needed to build true community. Without these basic guidelines for living, human life is impossible.

Let us continue to be good Samaritans to creation and to one another.

John Skinnader C.S.Sp. – Fr. John was ordained in 1981. Having already ‘prefected’ in Sierra Leone, he was in pastoral ministry in the west African country for most of the 1980s. He also served in Rome, Ireland and Ethiopia before moving to South Sudan in 2012.