Summary: We all desire to please God, for the most part, but how we go about it makes all the difference
Luke 10: 25-37
If Jesus were to come to you and tell you that this is the one thing that you need to do, in order to please God, would you not do it immediately? But will you be aware enough to be able to do it? Most people in the world want to be good, want to do good, in order to please God. But many do not know how to go about it, sometimes even religious people like you and me—religious people like the characters in today’s Gospel. Indeed, all the people in today’s Gospel were looking for a way to please God.
First the lawyer, he was looking for a way to please God; hence he wanted Jesus to precise further the Jewish Shema: “Hear O Israel, you must love the Lord your God with all your heart….” So he asked Jesus, ‘who is my neighbor?’ He wanted to be sure about how exactly he can please God. Hence Jesus told him the story of the Good Samaritan. Then the other main characters in today’s Gospel—the Levite, the priest and the Samaritan. The Levite and the priest are people who wanted to please God, because traveling on that road they were either going to or coming from the offering of sacrifice at the temple in Jerusalem. It is more likely that they were going to the Jerusalem temple because the likely reason they could not help that man lying on the road between Jerusalem and Jericho is that they thought the man was dead. In the Jewish culture if you touch a corpse/leper/pork or any other unclean thing you yourself become unclean. This means you will no longer be able to offer sacrifices at the temple, and this is a serious thing for a priest. That is why they passed by on the other side. They wanted to please God in the temple but they missed a golden opportunity for grace that the Lord set on their path.
On the other hand, the last major character—the Samaritan—was also looking for a way to please God. He was not allowed to worship in the same temple as the priest and the Levite, because he was a Samaritan but yet wanted to take advantage of any opportunity to please God, so he came to the aid of the dying man. Jesus presents this Samaritan to us today as an example of how to please God through certain unique situations that present themselves to us in our lives. What this Samaritan did was to take advantage of one such rare situation. It was not all the time that the Samaritan saw someone lying down along that road, half-dead, which is why he was able to abandon his own journey and take that dying man to the inn for treatment and promising to pay any extra on his way back. He could not have been doing that on a daily basis, presumably. It was God who placed that man on his path, the same way he placed him on the path of the priest and the Levite, but only the Samaritan took advantage of that moment of opportunity—moment of Grace. That is why he was the only one who succeeded in pleasing God in today’s Gospel, the only one who was blessed, Amen?
My brothers and sisters, do you want to please God and be blessed? Then you must take advantage of the graced moment that Jesus has set before you. There is somebody in your life who is lying down on your road between Jerusalem and Jericho, someone who needs your help. No matter how much you may think that you are not rich, you are still much better than some people. Jesus is waiting for you in one of those people, to bless you the way he surely must have blessed the Good Samaritan. Take advantage of that graced opportunity. And some of you have already taken advantage of that graced opportunity through some of your works of charity. Maybe you have already helped the person God placed on your path. If so, and if you are one of such people, thanks be to God for you!