“But a Samaritan, as he travelled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.”

Luke 10:33

Wednesday, 21 October 2020

Luke 10:25-37

With the arrival of the Samaritan, we see the religious, social and cultural outsider. In our day he would be any of a number of people frequently hated or feared for who or what they are: the illegal immigrant, the atheist, the homosexual, the feminist, the political enemy, etc. – take your pick according to your favourite prejudice.

In his encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, Francis’ language is interesting. Though he uses lots of theological and scriptural references, he speaks two ‘languages’ at once – secular philosophy and political theory, as well as the ‘God-talk’ one expects. Though he seldom references the former one can feel that he is acknowledging that the voice of the non-religious ‘outsider’ has something to say. Indeed, by juxtaposing this language with theology he is in effect proposing that we are speaking of the same thing, just in different languages. 

I would go further and suggest that he thinks these secular voices, or voices from other faiths, are in their way speaking God’s word to us, particularly when religious people seem unable or unwilling to hear God’s call to justice speaking through their own faith.

This should not surprise us. Do we really imagine that God only speaks to our people, in our language, according to our sets of rules and norms? Apart from being more than a little arrogant, this is precisely the thinking – whether religious or secular – that creates the climate of hatred and ‘othering’ that Francis challenges in Fratelli  Tutti. It’s what is called a ‘zero-sum game’ mentality: we have all the truth, all the righteousness, and all the right to remake the world in our image. The rest – well they are wrong, probably evil and therefore a threat!

Loving God,

Help us to see through our prejudices against those not like us. Let us seek to understand them better, and to see in them the image of you.


Fr Anthony Egan SJ

Fr Anthony Egan SJ (born Cape Town 1966; entered the Jesuits 1990; ordained 2002) has taught, full-time or part-time, at St Augustine College of South Africa, St John Vianney Seminary, Fordham University (on sabbatical) and the University of the Witwatersrand. The author/co-author of a number of books, book chapters, academic and popular articles, he is a correspondent for America magazine, a contributor to Worldwide and writes for spotlight.africa. He is also a commentator on local and international radio and television. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Helen Suzman Foundation. Extramural interests include Science Fiction, Theatre, Art and creative writing, including poetry.

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