The Parable of the Good Samaritan  

I’ve wanted for some time to start a Scripture discussion series on this site, hopefully each week choosing one reading that we can exchange reflections about. Yesterday’s Gospel, with Jesus’ parable about the Good Samaritan, seems an excellent one to start with, as it is familiar to all of us and speaks very powerfully to me personally.

As I’ve written before, many of us tend to get caught up in the “macro” world, focusing on major national or international “causes” about which it seems we as individuals can do little. Of course, as the recent overturning of Roe v. Wade, after almost 50 years, attests, individuals, when we band together to work, pray, and persevere, can have an impact on major issues affecting millions of lives.

But sometimes, in our ambition to “change the world,” we lose sight of the day-to-day opportunities—and obligations—we have to give loving care and service to individuals right in our own midst. Do we respond to the lonely neighbor who needs companionship, the family member with a disability who needs our accompaniment on their difficult life journey, the local family who have fallen on hard economic times, the parishioner who needs support as caregiver to a terminally ill loved one—or, as the Good Samaritan did, the suffering victim of a violent crime whom we encounter on the street?

In these and myriad other situations that we all encounter in our daily lives, we are presented with opportunities to make an immediate difference in the lives of individual people who need our help, and our love.

The late Catholic columnist Bill Reel, whom I was blessed to know as a friend, once wrote about social and political activists who “love humanity, they’re just not too crazy about human beings.” As one whose career has focused a lot on public policy issues from a Catholic perspective, this has always been a particular challenge for me.

Fortunately, I have been surrounded by so many people in my life whose loving outreach to others constantly reminds me that love for humanity must begin with loving care and concern for individual people in difficult circumstances whom God brings into our lives. I see this every day in my wife Eileen and those of her siblings who live near us. It seems second nature for them to reach out in kindness to suffering people they encounter in our community. I see it in my own now-adult children, all three of whom have shown that same loving kindness to hurting people they encounter.

And this is what the parable of the Good Samaritan says to me: that if we really want to “change the world,” we must start by helping to change and improve the lives of the people right around us—in our families, communities, churches, workplaces—who want and need our loving care and kindness.

How about some feedback? What does this parable say to you?

Published by Rick Hinshaw

I have spent the last three decades in primarily Catholic communications work: as a reporter, news editor, columnist, and for eight years editor of The Long Island Catholic; several years as co-host and co-producer of The Catholic Forum program on the diocesan Telecare channel; two stints as Director of Communications for the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights; and a year as Associate Director for Communications at the New York State Catholic Conference. I also served for three years as Public Information Officer for the late Nassau County District Attorney Denis Dillon, a staunchly Catholic and active pro-life leader. Over that more than 30-year career, I have gained an ever deeper understanding of and appreciation for the moral and social teachings of our Church. In my various roles I have lent my voice to articulating those teachings and their applicability to the critical issues of our time. That is what I intend to do with this blog. Moreover, at a time when our political and social disagreements seem to have degenerated into constant vitriol, vilification, verbal abuse and intolerance of those who hold differing opinions, I hope that this blog can contribute, in some small way, to a restoration of respectful debate and discussion, where we can defend our beliefs forcefully without demonizing any who disagree with us. As a Catholic commentator, that is what I have always striven to do--remembering that even as we are called to stand firmly in defense of our Church, her teachings, and our right to be heard in the public square, we are also called always to be the face of Christ to the world--most especially to those with whom we disagree.

2 thoughts on “The Parable of the Good Samaritan  

  1. I have always focused on the audience: In the older version the response was, :”The one who treated him with compassion” — much better than the newer version. Anyway the person(s) wished to justify themselves, make themselves appear better…. but their response betrays them since they could not even utter the word Samaritan without gagging… it was inconceivable to them that a Samaritan could be held up as an example for them to emulate. Peace,

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    1. Thanks, Father Larry, yes, you’ve touched on another teaching in this parable, the prejudice against certain GROUPS of people that, as in this instance, deprives us of the opportunity to learn, and be inspired by, the example of others from outside our comfort zones. As Jesus teaches here, we are ALL God’s children, created lovingly by Him, and called, ALL of us, to treat our fellow human beings as this Samaritan man did.

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