Fratelli Tutti (77)
The parable of the Good Samaritan has penetrated popular culture to the extent that laws have been given that name. Good Samaritan laws exist to encourage bystanders to help people in need without fear of liability. In the English language, a “good Samaritan” refers to one who gratuitously helps a stranger. The term “stranger” is key, because in the gospel account, making the hero a Samaritan was mind-blowing for Jesus’s audience. Judeans despised Samaritans, whom they considered unclean, even subhuman. As a metaphor, these characters leave no question that we are to embrace all others—no matter who or where they are from.
The Samaritan who stopped along the way departed without expecting any recognition or gratitude. His effort When you recall the biblical parable, with whom do you relate? Is it the Samaritan? Of course. Who of us would walk away from a fellow lying in the street, bruised and bleeding? Not you. Not I. But when has that happened to any of us, anyway? Lucky for us, an emergency 911 call will bring paramedics to the rescue and we can carry on with our day. . . right? Wrong! Not if we take our Christian faith seriously.
In Frattelli Tutti Pope Francis asks us to recognize the Good Samaritan parable as central to our life and lifestyle. The scene is playing out constantly anew—happening now—daily: “We can see this clearly as social and political inertia is turning many parts of our world into a desolate byway, even as domestic and international disputes and the robbing of opportunities are leaving great numbers of the marginalized stranded on the roadside”.
Throughout our life, we find ourselves in the position of each character. If we are honest with ourselves, we will recall instances of being the wounded one, alone, hurting; the robber who causes suffering and leaves; the passer-by who turns away at the painful sight of suffering; the preoccupied passer-by hurrying along due to an important schedule; even the innkeeper, taking instructions of care; the stranger who compassionately gives time, money, and energy to one who would probably reject you in normal circumstances. We all have a bit of each character in us. But in this time of crisis we must take a stand, decide who we are: Samaritan or Passer-by? “Now there are only two kinds of people: those who care for someone who is hurting and those who pass by; those who bend down to help and those who look the other way and hurry off . . . Very simply, unless you are the wounded one, you are either part of the problem or part of the solution. Let’s also remember
Francis asks that we take responsibility for change: “Let us take an active part in renewing and supporting our troubled societies”. Rather than succumbing to apathy or listening to those who incite division and spread hateful lies, we can focus on what is good and make it the centre of our actions. We should not feel burdened by our individual responsibility, but realize that we are joining a global family dedicated to unity and interdependence. We are to look to others for strength and support.
“We can start from below and, case by case, act at the most concrete and local levels, and then expand to the farthest reaches of our countries and our world, with the same care and concern that the Samaritan showed for each of the wounded man’s injuries… . Let us renounce the pettiness and resentment of useless in-fighting and constant confrontation. Let us stop feeling sorry for ourselves and acknowledge our crimes, our apathy, our lies. Reparation and reconciliation will give us new life and set us all free from fear.
to assist another person gave him great satisfaction in life and before his God, and thus became a duty. All of us have a responsibility for the wounded, those of our own people and all the peoples of the earth. Let us care for the needs of every man and woman, young and old, with the same fraternal spirit of care and closeness that marked the Good Samaritan.”