The Good Samaritan, 10TH JULY 2016

Of all of the teachings of Jesus the parable of the Good Samaritan is undoubtedly the most famous, known to Christians and non-Christians alike. His parable is, of course, about responsibility, about caring for others no matter whom or what they may be. Today, however, I want to pay attention to some other responsibilities we have. Responsibility and caring for our neighbors is not enough even though the definition of “neighbor” is boundless. So what might be those other responsibilities?

Strange as it may seem at first glance we ought to take a look at how we can be responsible for ourselves. I say strange because we hear so much about our selfishness, our self-centeredness, and selfish consumerism that is gobbling up our world’s resources and damaging our environment. We must remember, however, that Jesus told us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. So it is important to realize that how we treat ourselves influences how we love others. How can we respect others if we don’t respect ourselves? We cannot give what we don’t have. We must love our neighbors as we love ourselves. What I want to point out is our responsibility to our inner selves, our responsibility to our souls. We need to pay attention to our spiritual selves, not just our material selves. So many men in their older years realize that they spent so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence, working, working, and working to have things and have things for their families. But what sort of things should have been the question on their minds. In being obsessed with their work they missed their children’s youth and missed their wives’ closeness and companionship. Like the man in the ditch in today’s gospel account their wives and children were on the side of the road and passed by. This isn’t true just of men. Nowadays with women in the workforce they, too, may fail to give adequate attention to their families, wishing at the end of their lives that they had been more responsive to their husbands and children.

There is another responsibility to our inner selves, namely that of letting our feelings out, letting them be known, expressing our feelings. The phenomenon of living with repressed feelings allows those repressed feelings to be cancerous infections that cause physical and emotional illnesses, many of them resulting in hurtful behaviors to themselves and to others. I am not a social psychologist but I wonder if the widespread addiction to pornography can be traced to a lack of closeness to others, others whom, in our bottled up feelings, we pass by as we travel on the road through life.

Laughter and tears allow others to relate to us in healthy ways just as they allow us to reveal and share our hearts and souls with those around us. To put it simply, feelings allow us to get in touch with our real selves just as they allow others to get in touch with us. This suppression, by the way, is one of the fundamental causes of teenage distress and teenage anti-social behavior. Isn’t it true that teenagers often cry out: “You just don’t understand! You just don’t get it!”