Samaritans were considered, by some Israelites to be almost “sub-human”. They were often called dogs…not the cute cuddly puppy…but rather the mangy half-starved denizens of the night who wander the dark streets in search of a morsel of food. And this is precisely who is the hero of Jesus’ story. It is the dehumanized one who acted with humanity, one who acted as God would want us to act. Who was his sister? Who was his brother? Surely not an Israelite…who after all most likely hated and despised him…but in the very midst of that knowledge, the Samaritan was moved with pity and cared with gentleness and kindness for the one who despised him.
This Sunday’s Gospel offers us the chance to reflect on who we wish to be…the heartless priest who passes by…or the good Samaritan who risks being gentle and kind to someone who despised him? God cries out to us to be compassionate and kind toward others especially those in need, especially to those whom our society marginalizes and despises. We know who they are…what are we willing to do for them? Are we willing to risk being good Samaritans? Are we willing to stand up on their behalf and demand justice for them?