Friday, April 23, 2010

Embracing the Good Samaritan

While waiting for my son's catechism class to end the other day, I picked up the latest copy of Catholic Update, and read the article on the works of mercy. It had a perspective on the parable of the Good Samaritan that really struck me. Apparently this is a well-known analysis: that the parable is not about how we are all called to help others, but rather is meant to help us recognize the mercy Christ has shown us. It is a parable of God's salvation -- Jesus is the neighbor, the Good Samaritan. He comes to us, who are hurt and broken, and provides us with everything we need. He heals our wounds, takes us to a resting place, pays our debt, and promises to return for us.

Naturally, we are called to help others. Scripture is clear in many other passages, most notably last Sunday's reading from John 21 which I have at the bottom of this webpage. "Feed my lambs, tend my sheep," says Jesus, calling His disciples to provide spiritually and materially for all His children. But what strikes me is the focus of the most famous passage of Scripture. Even non-believers are aware of the parable of the Good Samaritan. In some states there are Good Samaritan laws that hold bystanders accountable for failing to render aid.

Yet I think most of us fail to understand it properly. Jesus is not telling us what we should do. He is showing us what God has done. The parable of the Good Samaritan is not a set of instructions. It's a song of praise for God's goodness.

It echoes what I've been feeling these past few months. There has been a great deal of upheaval in my life, starting with the ectopic pregnancy and progressing right through discerning school options for next year, determining the relationship I will have with certain family members, and making decisions on future children. All the questions I've had about what God wants me to do, I have taken to Him in Adoration, and all I keep hearing in my heart is "Don't worry," and "This is My work."

It IS His work. Nothing I do is my own doing. Nothing I achieve is the product of my labors. All the effort and anxiety I put into trying to do the Lord's will doesn't draw me nearer to Him. It just increases my worry.

I took such comfort from that article, almost as though God was saying to me, "Calm down and leave things in My hands." My job is not to go out there and save all the poor and downtrodden; it's simply to embrace God's salvation and allow it to work within me. When I find opportunities to perform the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, I should respond with the same spirit and outpouring of love Christ has shown me.

That's it. That's the sum of my job on this earth. No need to control things and work myself into a lather about timing and persuading those around me to join in my efforts. Just quiet love and a joyful spirit of giving.

As Paul has said:
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
-- Phillipians 4: 11-13
Content in every situation, and do all through Him who gives me strength. The peace and happiness I've felt from letting this truth fill my heart has enabled me to takes steps I've never been able to before, and which I plan to post about in the future. It has also, I hope, made me a better wife and mother, which is my primary vocation and deepest desire of my heart.

Picture credit.

7 comments:

Claire said...

Do you go to STM? I saw your comment yesterday over at nowealth and then I think I saw your name on a list at the STM library? Small world...

Tienne said...

Hi Claire! Yes, I do go to STM. I'm part of the Moms and Tots group, St. Vincent de Paul and Gabriel Project. Do you have kids? Probably we've seen each other and don't even know it! :)

Claire said...

Cool! I do not attend STM, but I go out there on Wed. mornings to attend an Endow meeting. I have enjoyed reading your most recent posts, and will pray tonight for children who need foster or adoptive parents.

Marianne Thomas said...

Visiting via Conversion Diary.

Lovely post & lovely blog. Glad I clicked over. ;-)

Mairanne@Writer-Mommy

Sleeping Beastly said...

Thanks for this post! God has made poverty of spirit a major theme in my spiritual work lately, and your blog seems to be one more vehicle of God's grace in that work.

Mindyleigh said...

I just wrote a post in response to this blog. Thank you for sharing all your experiences with us. I love reading it.

Here is the link:
http://thedevoutlife.blogspot.com/2010/05/works-of-mercygods-work-not-ours.html

Katherine said...

Conversion Diary also led me to your blog.

I've often felt a desire to help the poor but particularly the homeless. In our current living situation, though, I'm not sure what I can do. I'll have to do more research.

Love your blog! God Bless!