Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Not-So-Good Samaritan

“The Not-So-Good Samaritan?”
(Casual Blogging Series #4 – Wednesday, July 8, 2009) – Presidential Election Day

By Deshi Ramadhani, SJ

I just voted. I won’t tell you whom I voted for, unless…. (sorry, I can’t say it for fear of making hidden campaign). As I was driving home from the election site, watching at my tainted finger, thinking of some other things happened recently in my life, and reflecting on God’s soft whispers I had been hearing during these past weeks, I recalled the story of the Good Samaritan. What really makes this guy “good,” that centuries of generations have been canonizing him as the Good Samaritan? At least, there are two kinds of goodness. I call them, “the goodness of stopping” and “the goodness of moving on.”

That guy saw a wounded man. [Wait a minute, did I tell you it’s in Luke 10:25-37? And make sure you look up for Luke in the New Testament. If you don’t know, you must be a classical Roman Catholic. Oops… Peace!]. He stopped and did everything he could: approached him, poured oil and wine over the wounds, bandaged them, put him on his donkey, brought him to an inn, and might even stay awake all night long to take care of him. All this is his “goodness of stopping.” Yes, he stopped from his routine. He put aside his personal plan and let himself be bothered by the suffering of his fellow human being. He might feel groggy the next day for lack of sleep.

Here comes the surprise. The very next day, he gave two silver coins to the inn-keeper, asked him to take care of the poor guy, promised to give more should it be necessary later on, and… and… and… he took off! Wait a minute. Did he really leave the poor fellow in the hands of a stranger? How did he know that the inn-keeper would really take care of the wounded man? Wasn’t he afraid that the inn-keeper would waste his money for other needs? Well, all we know is that he really took off and left the poor fellow with the inn-keeper. All that he did the next day (and God knows how many more days after that) was his “goodness of moving on.”

I believe that this combination of complementary two kinds of goodness really makes him good! Cross out one of these, and you will have a “not-so-good Samaritan.” He is good because he wants to do good with as much time and energy and love he has. Yet, if he thinks that he is the only one who can do good, and everybody else will never do such goodness, he is not really a good guy. And remember, this parable is Jesus’ way of teaching how we should love others as we love ourselves. This guy is good because he both loves others and himself totally. He doesn’t forget his own needs to do his own business. This is so amazing. Yes, even Mother Teresa had to eat, have some rest, pray, go to Mass. She was a saintly woman, precisely because she loved herself so much and at the same time loved others so much. And think about Pope John Paul the Great who always had time for skiing. He became a saintly man, again, because he loved himself and others so much. That is the real teaching in the parable of the Good Samaritan.

Yet, sadly, many of us practice only the first half of his goodness. Many of us will immerse themselves in helping others without ever loving themselves much enough. Just look around. Wives who tend every single detail of their husbands’ needs, mothers who sweat all day and never believe in trusting their children to stand on their own feet, priests who never eat because they give all his time in ministry, and still many others. I believe, were Jesus here, He would have said, “Well, these people, even the most heroic ones, are in fact the not-so-good Samaritans.”

[Now, just a small note about the election. I put it between brackets. No clear insight yet. When leaders say that they will give themselves up totally for the people’s needs, many ears will hear, ironically, just the second half of the goodness. They probably would never really stop and take care, but simply ask others to do their jobs, and eventually blaming others for not doing their jobs well. I hope I am completely wrong here].

So, just be the really, really, really GOOD Samaritan.

PS. This reflection is inspired by Bo Sanchez’ book “7 Secrets to Real Freedom,” pp. 91-92. If you buy and read this book, tell the author that I mention him here.