Once again, we take up Pope Francis document, Fratelli Tutti. This second chapter takes us to one of the most powerful parables in the Gospel. The story of the Good Samaritan. Of course, it flows from the previous consideration of all the turmoil that we experience worldwide and very close to home. You can access the full encyclical at: www.vatican.va/content/vatican/en.html
Chapter 2: A Stranger on the Road
“Each day we have to decide whether to be Good Samaritans or indifferent bystanders (69).” The challenges named in the previous chapter highlight the need to reconsider our priorities on a personal, communal, and global level, before it is too late. We can only succeed when we come together in love as sisters and brothers, with care like that shown by the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25–37).
The Good Samaritan is a parable about a Jewish traveler who is stripped, beaten, and left wounded alongside the road. First a Jewish priest and then a Levite come by, but both avoid the man. Finally, a Samaritan happens upon the traveler. Samaritans and Jews despised each other,
but the Samaritan helps the injured man. Jesus is described as telling the parable in response to the question from a lawyer, “And who is my neighbor?” The neighbor is the injured man who is shown mercy by the Good Samaritan.
The parable is a lesson not solely about charity, but also a transformative encounter of mercy. The pope provides a detailed description of each character in the story so the reader can ask “Who am I, who are we, in this story?”
So, who is my neighbor? Francis concludes this chapter by calling for catechesis and preaching that “speak more directly and clearly about the social meaning of existence, the fraternal dimension of spirituality, our conviction of the inalienable dignity of each person and our reasons for loving and accepting all our brothers and sisters.”
Reflection Question: Have you ever experienced such an “encounter of mercy”?