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Jesus-Good Samaritan

It was on our Cursillo Weekend that we first heard of the cross as a symbol of our vertical and horizontal relationships. The vertical bar represented our relationship with God; the horizontal bar our relationship with others. And when we experienced a dramatic change in our I—God relationship on our Weekend, we discovered that we were free for a deeper relationship with others, our sisters and brothers in Christ. At the same time, we heard Jesus’ challenge to us that we become Christ to others.

Jesus saw Himself as sent by God to serve others. He told His disciples that if they wanted to be greater than others, they must be servants of all. Mk 10:44. Jesus even disregarded Jewish religious laws when they hindered Him from caring for another’s needs. We need Jesus as our model of how a person should live for others, because the human tendency is to take a good quality like caring for others and subverting it to serve ourselves─not the way to win others to Christ.

Human Way. With the best of intentions of serving others, we may end up seeking to make others dependent on us. Without realizing it, we may allow selfishness to creep into our concern to help others. We may desire others to give us attention, to appreciate us and to make it clear that they need us. We may become dependent on others needing us and having needs we can satisfy. We may seek to win love from others by serving them and taking pains to please them, otherwise known as manipulation. Further, we may not notice that we have needs of our own—like replenishing our own spiritual resources.

Jesus Way. Jesus teaches us a lesson of service to others in the parable of the Good Samaritan. Lk 10:30-37. To justify his keeping of Mosaic law to love our neighbors as ourselves, a lawyer asks Jesus: “Which neighbors?” Jesus tells him the story of bandits attacking a Jew on the road and leaving him for dead. Jewish leaders passing by ignore him, but a hated Samaritan comes to his rescue. Jesus gave a whole new dimension to the term “neighbor”. Anyone who is in need. Not necessarily, one who is attractive to us.

Further, Jesus avoids tying people to Himself. So often He sent people away after He worked a miracle for them. When the cured demoniac asks to join His company of disciples, Jesus refuses. Mk 5:18f. Often he tells them not to say anything about what he has done for them. His main concern is their well-being, physically and spiritually.

Remedies. Given Jesus’ stress on being of service to others, we may not be aware of how selfishness can creep into our relationships with others. We need awareness and we need discernment of what is motivating us. Are we tying others to Christ or to ourselves? Our prayer time is a good time to allow Christ’s Spirit to penetrate our lives and reveal to us the soundness or the selfishness in our relationships.

It is wise to understand that love is not won from others. No matter what we do for others, love is always a gift. It must be freely given. That is the nature of love. The same is true of God: we cannot win God’s love. We must realize that the free gift of divine love gives us the basis for recognizing that we are lovable because of who we are rather than for what we do for either God or others.

Therefore, we must allow ourselves the time and solitude to meditate on God’s free gift of love. Our faith centers on being cared for by God. The whole story of salvation is based on what God has done and continues to do for us. We may get so caught up in doing for others that we are reluctant to enter into such prayerful reflection. However, such reflection is the foundation for our self-love and for our relationships with others. We had experienced this truth on our Weekend, and it should be a lesson for life.