Readings: Galatians 1:6-12; Luke 10:25-37
I recognize three strong emotions behind today’s parable, known as “the Good Samaritan.”
The first is operative before the narrative begins: anger. There must have been anger–resentment against the system or family, frustration of being unable to get ahead–motivating the robbers who stripped and beat up this traveler to Jericho.
The second is fear, as exhibited by the priest and the Levite passing by the victim. Fear of ritual impurity, of taking responsibility, of not knowing what to do.
What does the Samaritan feel? Compassion, of course. But over the past few years I’ve been wondering: why did compassion spring up in him and not in the priest and the Levite? I’m wondering whether he allowed himself to feel the crushing blow of sorrow when he saw the wounded, abandoned man. In Latin, the word for mercy is “misericordia”–a miserable heart, a heart, perhaps, broken open by misery or sadness.
We live in a very angry and frightened world, generating much harm and yet more fear. We live in a culture addicted to self-expression; self-expression that is uncensored, refusing to admit reflection before igniting.
Sorrow, by contrast, is reflexive; it reflects what is within and without. Sorrow takes time, brings actions to a halt.
If, instead of anger or fear, I’d risk sorrow, as I’m confronted by so many calamities and frustrations, both within and without, might I be capable of the Samaritan’s response? Might I then do something healing, rather than tearing down? Is that why Jesus taught, Blessed are they who mourn?