St Francis of Assisi | Monday 4 October 2021
Today is Monday the 4 October, the feast of St Francis of Assisi, in the 27th week of Ordinary time.
The University of Johannesburg choir sing Ukuthula; Peace in this world of sin the blood of Jesus brings. Redemption in this world of sin the blood of Jesus brings.
Today’s reading is from the Gospel of Luke.
Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. ‘Teacher,’ he said, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ He said to him, ‘What is written in the law? What do you read there?’ He answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbour as yourself.’ And he said to him, ‘You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.’
But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbour?’ Jesus replied, ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan while travelling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, “Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.” Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?’ He said, ‘The one who showed him mercy.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.’
One way of praying is to try to experience a piece of scripture through the senses. We meet God in the freeing spirit of our own imagination. Francis embraced a leper in response to this parable and believed that he had met God. This parable from Luke is so well known perhaps by entering the story in prayer we can experience Jesus teaching in a deeper way.
Where would I put myself in this account? As an observer, too far away to do anything but witness…
Or entering into the tale as the victim lying in the scrub at the side of the road, left for dead, and helpless against the elements? What are his wounds like?
How do you imagine the terrain? Dusty? Stony? Are there hot winds or a gentle breeze? Or perhaps it’s cold around you…
The first passers-by, recognisable by their dress as a priest and a Levite, raise such hope. What do they see? Someone already near death, a situation that does not involve them? What the priest and the Levite ‘must do’ to fulfil their religious duties is to remain ritually clean. They don’t even know if the man is one of their community. How do you imagine them reacting as they approach…the looks on their faces?
What thoughts from the Samaritan? What difference in his heart allows him to stop?
What reaction do you think the victim has when the Samaritan reaches out to him? Take a moment to imagine the gestures, the looks and words exchanged…
See that the Samaritan has the means to help the man, the oils and bandages, the animal to carry him and the money for the innkeeper. But the choice is still his and he is extravagant in his care.
And at no time does he ask for appreciation or repayment. How does this speak of my relationship with those in need, my neighbour, my responsibility to the world? How can I replace ‘must’ with ‘mercy’? How can I do ‘likewise’?
Take a moment to reflect on the parable and to share your thoughts with the Lord.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.