By Andrew Njovu
IN Luke Chapter 10 V 25 -27 there is a story of a lawyer who came to Jesus and said ‘master, what must I do to inherit eternal life’? Jesus threw the question back to him and said ‘ you are a lawyer, what does the law say and how do you interpret the law’? This lawyer replied and said ‘ Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your strength, with all you mind and with all your soul and love your neighbour as you love yourself’. The Lord Jesus Christ replied and said you have answered correctly, do that and you will live.
The Scripture says, this lawyer wanted to justify himself and so he said, who is my neighbour? Then our Lord Jesus Christ told him of a man who was travelling from Jerusalem to Jericho and on t he way this man was attacked, beaten and had his clothes taken away and left half dead. A priest also happened to be travelling the same route and when he reached where the man was lying half dead, the priest looked at him and then passed over the other side and went his way.
Then a Levite also happened to be traveling the same route and when he reached where the man was lying half dead, he too, looked at the man but passed over the other side. Soon after a Samaritan also came to the scene where the man was laying and when he saw him, he had pity and quickly rushed to where he was lying and attended to him, bandaged his wounds and then put him on his donkey and took him to the clinic. (LUKE 10 V 25 -27)
It is interesting to note that JEWS AND Samaritans arch enemies. To appreciate the level of enmity, one just has to look at what happened at the well when JESUS asked for a cup of water from that Samaritan woman and the response he got. ‘” you are Jew, asking for a cup of water from me a Samaritan women” in Luke 9; 51-56 Jesus was reject in Samaria. Jesus left Galilee and headed for Jerusalem.
He knew that JERUSALEM was the place where his work would eventually finish, but first there was much work that he wanted to do in Samaria, Judea and certain areas east of Jordan. The Samaritans had for centuries been enemies of the Jews, and hated the Jews passing through their territory on the way to Jerusalem. Jesus wanted to be friendly with them but they did not want his friendship( Luke 9: 51-53) In return James and John wanted God to destroy the Samaritans. Their request showed that they still knew little of the great love the Jesus had for the rebellious mankind(LUKE 9 54-56)
Let us go back to the story of that priest and Levite who did not render help to the man lying half dead. Some theologians have said, much as the priest and the Levite would have wanted to assist, according to the Jewish tradition, if they had touched that wounded man, they would have been considered un clean. The two Jewish religious leaders were rushing to go and perform a very important religious feast and if they had touched the man, they would have disqualified themselves from performing the religious feast ahead of them . However the two religious leaders seem to have forgotten what Prophet Isaiah had said many years ago, ‘ I DESIRE MERCY AND NOT SACRIFICE’. So which way, you look at it, the tow religious leaders failed the test.
In Matthew 25 35-45 Jesus is clearly telling us that on the day of Judgement they will only be two groups of people before him. Those who have cared for the poor, for the suffering and those in pain on one side and those who have neglected the poor, those in pain and on the other side.
Please let start seeing Jesus Christ in the poor, in those who are in pain and the less privileged and be close to them In the closing remarks of the second Vatican Council 1962-65 is was said ‘’ The joys and hopes, the sorrows and anxieties of the men and women of this age and particularly those who are in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the sorrows and anxieties of the followers of Christ”.
Pope Paul 6th says in one of his writings that each time he was meditating on the Parable of the good Samaritan, four(4) questions always came to his mind. The first question was – supposing the good Samarian had arrived at the scene and found the thieves and the man still struggling before they overpowered him, what could he have done? Could he have gone back to Jerusalem to go and call the police t o come and arrest the criminal? Or could he have folded his arms and say ‘ let me wait and see what these thieves will do to this man? Could he have done this? Or could he have denounced the t he thieves, you criminal, stop what you are doing. Please stop. Could he have done this? Or could he have physically confronted the thieves ? These are the four questions that Pope Paul 6th always meditated on. What was the Pope teaching us/ For me the Pope was teaching us about two(2) things one, the importance of meditating on the scripture. A lot of us Christians read the Bible like Timers of Zambia, Daily Nation, Daily mail or indeed the way we read a novel We ought to change our attitude in the manner we read the Bible, because when we read the scripture, we are talking to God and God will reveal s Himself to us by reading the word, so we need to take a serious approach in the manner we read the word of God. The second lesson that the Pope was teaching us is what is referred to as s’ the prophetic role or prophet voice of the church.
Prophets Jeremiah, Isaiah, Hosea, Micah, Amos and others all denounced injustice and contorted the Pharisees over their hypocrisy in the manner they were conducting their religious affairs . When Jesus Came he followed the foo steps of the prophets and denounced injustice and at one time took a whip and chased those characters who had turned a house of prayer into SHOPRITE
The LATE Bishop Holder Dom Camara says in his book the desert is fertile ‘ when I give food to the poor, they call me a saint, but when I ask, why are people poor in this country’ they call me a criminal to be arrested” yes while it is good to share what we have with those who do not have anything. As Christians we have a prophetic role of denouncing injustice and help create a fair society for all .Benedict Kiwanuka of Uganda said ‘” it is better to die as martyrs, than as cowards “
In fact Jesus himself encouraged us and said ‘ do not fear those who can kill the body, but fear God who can do both kill the body and worse things to soul’. There is corruption and injustices everywhere including in the churches and people are not speaking out.
The author is a member of the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace(CCJP) and chairperson for the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection(JCTR) Kasama outreach team. The author is also recipient of world Bank award in good governance. Emailanjovu8@gmail.com