Goodness to Strangers
During the preparation for the National Youth Day (NYD), we were inviting families and individuals to foster participants and young people who would be coming from different places in the Philippines to stay with them for at least six days. The initial questions they would usually ask were: Who are these people? Where do they come from? They are normal questions for background checking. Yet they are also questions that reveal cautiousness, even anxiety. It is natural to inquire because they would be welcoming total strangers. It is already difficult to help family members and friends. All the more difficult to help strangers and people who are totally unknown.
Here lies the greatness of Jesus. He challenges the comfort zones of his followers. He invited them to love and show compassion even to strangers. He taught us generosity by going the extra mile for people who are not affiliated to us. In today’s gospel, Jesus narrated the familiar story of the Good Samaritan. The context came from a lawyer’s question on “how to inherit eternal life.” The lawyer knew the formula: love God and love your neighbor. But by telling the story, Jesus insisted that it is not enough to know. What matters is doing good to anyone, to everyone even to strangers. We have to do good even to those who do not deserve our generosity and goodness.
Jesus challenges us to be like this Good Samaritan. In his day, Samaritans were unbelievers and heretics. The story implied that anyone can do good, even those whom we think are good for nothing. Jesus is teaching us that we have to train ourselves to find goodness anywhere and in every one. The poor widow at Zarepath baked a small cake for a stranger who happened to be Prophet Elijah. As a reward, she had unlimited supply of flour and oil from her little containers for a year. The families who initially welcomed strangers during the NYD really welcomed angels in disguise. Some of them became real friends, others became their “foster children.” It always pays to offer the extra mile unconditionally.
Prayer: Lord, help me to see you in others so that I may honor you in serving them. Amen.
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