15th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Fr. Simham)
Who is my neighbour?
Let me tell you the story of a modern Samaritan. It is not a story but it is a real incident that happened last week. It was on one of the Indian news channels called NDTV on this Friday. It was about a man called Vijay who was driving his car with his mom on board and met with an accident. He dashed his car against the foot path at 1.00 0’clock in the morning. He saw his mother caught up between the engine and the seat and in a pool of blood . You know what he did? He ran away from the site abandoning his mother to die without being attended. After five hours somebody else saw and reported it to the police but it was too late.
This man was arrested and brought to court. That is how the news has come to light. What do you think of the incident? He saw his mother in the pool of blood, instead of helping her and taking her to the hospital he just ran away. Reasons for acting like that were that he was driving without licence so he is afraid he will be booked, two he is working in an honourable company and he may lose his job. Let now turn to today’s gospel.
What surprises me today is the question that he asks. It summarizes the whole of the culture and our thinking that materialism and science brought to the world replacing religion. “Who is my neighbour?” Jesus says as a part of commandment of love “love your neighbour as yourself.” But the lawyer asks “Who is my neighbour?” Look at the two questions he asks “What should I do to inherit eternal life? And then “who is my neighbour?” This he asks “to justify himself”. That means he knows only himself and he doesn’t know who his neighbour is. I know a person called “me.” And everything else exists for me but I don’t know who this neighbour my rival is. What is this loving neighbour business is all about.
There is a lot involved in this question “who is my neighbour?” In the parable today two people who come first on the road to Jericho represent the lawyer who asks this question. All these three represent a certain type of people in the world for whom everything exists for them. Mother is to bring me up, wife is to entertain me, children are to obey me, employer is to give them work and money, police is to protect, government to support, doctor is to heal, priest is to baptise and bury me, barber to shave, carer to care. They all exist for me. If I am not there they don’t have their job. It is these type of people who ask who is my neighbour to whom I should show love. No they exist for me.
There is danger of materialistic culture leading us to this type of individualism . Limiting our world to 53 inches box. TV. Apart from that the people we know to our partner, children and few colleagues at work place: this is our world and even these few we know are kept at distance, should not affect our privacy or individual freedom. We know more about some celebrity on TV than our neighbour who lives next door. If your house number is 56 you may not know who live in 57 what is their religion or country and what is their pressing need or problem. At the most we may say hi! And bye! When you accidentally meet them at the door. Our relationship ends with that. Most of the people who live in the big cities they say live alone amidst people. They live with people but they are alone. They live an alienated life in their own locality. They are comfortable with that.
It is these people when they hear about neighbour ask who is he? What have I got to do with them? Look at the priest and the Levite, they come across a man in need but he cannot be accommodated into their busy schedule. I have got so many things that I should do that I don’t have time for you. Because they do not know who their neighbour is. Neighbour does not exist for them.
Jesus makes the Samaritan the hero of this story because he had time for this man who is in need. He is not worried about what will happen to his business schedule if he is held up here with this man in need. He was moved with compassion. And that compassion makes him to go out his way to help. Take some risk in life. Jesus himself was a person for whom the others: you and me mattered more than himself. For him our salvation mattered more than his own position at the right hand of the father. For the Father our salvation mattered more than his only Son. So a Christian is called not to be self-centred but other-centred.
Fr. Showreelu Simham