Dear friends on the journey,
While scripture was written for a particular time, people and culture, it is no less relevant to us today in our own unique culture and situations. Understanding its original context can clear the field so we can get to the heart of the message and ask the question: What is God trying to tell me in this passage? For the message to have an impact requires meditation and action. So how can we do this?
Ignatian spirituality offers a way for the Holy Spirit to, as Fr. Kevin O’Brien says, “make present a mystery of Jesus’ life in a way that is meaningful for you now.” The spiritual practice of imaginative prayer guides us to immerse ourselves in a gospel story, engaging our senses and imagination so we can identify with the people and connect our own circumstances to theirs.
Today’s gospel of the Good Samaritan is a perfect passage to meditate on using imaginative prayer. The story contains the great commandment, a difficult situation, many characters and timeless messages for us. I invite you to take some time this week to use this spiritual practice, allowing the Holy Spirit to guide you to what God is saying just to you right now. I’d like to focus on the characters in the story and offer these questions as guides. Imagine you are the:
Jewish Lawyer: Am I more concerned with the law rather than humanity? Am I more devoted to the letter than the spirit, for instance immigrants seeking a safer life? Do I view situations only in black and white? Can I acknowledge the gray and look at it from another perspective?
Victim: When have I experienced suffering, trauma, or pain – physical, emotional, mentally, sexual, or otherwise? Did I ask for help? Who did help me in those moments? Have I expressed my gratitude to them? How am I better because of another’s kindness?
Priest/Levite: Am I too busy for others? Am I better than others because of my race, ethnicity, neighborhood, economic status? Am I afraid to get involved in a difficult situation, like a car accident, even though it will delay or cost me? Is it possible to move out of my comfort zone to help another?
Samaritan: How has my own experience of suffering shifted my view of others? Am I more empathetic because I know what it’s like to be invisible, misunderstood, or judged? Am I able to see another’s situation without judgment and help even though I may not agree with them?
Innkeeper: Have I ever been “dumped” on? How did I respond when a task or situation, like having to care for a sick relative, was thrust upon me without warning or permission? Did I roll up my sleeves or resist it?
Jesus: When I am in a difficult situation, do I recall a similar situation in scripture and consider his teachings or what he would do in my situation, and did it?