Homily: Being a Good Samaritan Today
By Mons. Peter Jeffrey:
Reflecting on our own experience, we may find that our lives tend to become compartmentalized. By that, I mean, we tend to want our work to stay at work and we want our family life to take priority at home.
However, our spirituality, our faith life - if you like - is not to be just one facet of our life that sits apart from others. Our Catholicity is not just something we do on weekends (Sat. or Sun.) it is a way of being.
To the question “Who is my neighbour?” Jesus replied with the familiar story of the Good Samaritan. In Jesus’ time, many Jews shunned Samaritans because they were the descendants of Jews who had married people from different ethnic and religious backgrounds. In today’s parable, Jesus shook the prejudices of the religious scholar when in the parable, he made the Samaritan the “good guy”.
This well-known ‘parable’ also challenges us to be aware of those who live on the margins and to pay attention to those the world often ignores. It made me reflect, for example, on what is happening with Australia’s “off-shore” processing.
Since 19th July 2013, there have been 3,127 people held in detention in PNG and Nauru. Today, there are approximately 800 people left in limbo in those places. In the past few years over 500 have been resettled in the United States. However many, rejected by the United States, are still languishing in PNG and Nauru.
There have been many tragic consequences resulting from this policy – including 2 recent self-immolations, 12 deaths, split families and many episodes of mental health issues and acts of self-harm. These are like the man who fell by the wayside in Jesus’ parable.
Closer to home, think of the Good Samaritans in our own Parish. Often in hidden ways, people notice situations where they can and do help others in their neighbourhood. The more we savour the fact that in our unredeemed state we are like the man by the wayside. When we meet Jesus, as the Good Samaritan, in our prayer and Holy Communion, we may find we begin to notice others who need help.
Think of the many examples of “love in action” in the homes and broader community of our Parish. I recognise the Good Samaritan at work when I see members of St. Vincent de Paul engaging with people in need. On Friday, a team of people prepare and then serve a meal to people who generally live rather solitary lives.
We all remember Charles Lawler. He is now cared for at Ave Maria Village. Charles himself has made the transition smoothly - thanks to the constant help given to him by some of our Parishioners. Like the Good Samaritan they have taken him to the Inn have looked after him generously and lovingly. Charles was “a hoarder” so you can imagine the work involved in clearing his flat! Loads of stuff went to the tip.
Often I find these caring acts and gestures happen very quietly - without any fanfare or trumpets. In our Eucharist today pray that we may be neighbourly and act mercifully. Let us not forget to pray that we ourselves be open to receive mercy and kindness from others. Personally, I pray in thanksgiving for those Parishioners who have been keeping me very well fed. Thank you for your acts of generous kindness.