“Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead…”

Luke 10:30

Tuesday, 20 October 2020

Luke 10:25-37

So begins Jesus’ most subversive parable of them all, the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), which undermines narrow understandings of both religious duty and our sense of nationality. Jesus’ priorities will become clear as the story unfolds. True faith is not affirming creeds or quoting sacred texts but doing God’s will – the service of one’s neighbour, the latter defined as any person in need.

The priest and the Levite pass by as the story continues. Jesus does not comment on their character or motivation. Those who first listened to it would know immediately that according to strict Judaic law, any encounter with the injured man would have made them ritually impure. They are, therefore ‘right’ in the sense of doing what their religious beliefs require. But are they really following what the ‘spirit’ of the law – love of God and neighbour – command?

All too often, we split ourselves into practices that we do, beliefs that we affirm, and our moral choices that we face in daily life. Do we ever find ourselves caught between beliefs and practices? In an emergency situation, how do we act?

Commenting on the text, Pope Francis observes:

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. Here, all our distinctions, labels and masks fall away: it is the moment of truth. [Fratelli Tutti, n.70].

South African readers of a certain generation may well find in that last phrase ‘moment of truth’ an echo of our own 1985 Kairos Document. It is a call to action, a call to prioritise what faith means to us and to ‘go and do likewise’.


help us to face the challenge to make difficult moral choices; May we not hide behind religion or use it to avoid complex decisions, Least of all pretend to be neutral.


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.

See more from Anthony Egan SJ
No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Click to subscribe to: