The Good Central American Samaritan

A sermon for the north for the fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C
Luke 10; 25-37

More than fifteen years ago, St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Ames was planning to expand its offices and worship space. In the gathering space there was an empty two story wall. The committee decided to seek a local artist who was a parishioner to create a “Story Wall” – combing images of scripture and sacraments with the life of the parish.

Jo Myers-Walker took up the project, using clay images that were mounted on the wall. She sought input from many people and involved many parishioners in the project, some of whom make the clay that she fashioned into images.

One day I stopped by her studio and we talked about one image – the Good Samaritan.

Jo was going to portray me as the good Samaritan, knowing of my work with the poor and especially with the poor of El Salvador. No, I said. The Good Samaritan is the Central American.


All too often we fail to realize that the Good Samaritan was the outsider, the impure outsider. The pure priest and levite pass by – perhaps to preserve their ritual purity. But the Samaritan saw the man who fell among the robbers. He stopped and, moved with compassion, touched his wounds, and took him to a place of rest.

The Samaritans were looked down on by the Jewish leaders. They followed the Torah but didn’t worship in Jerusalem and had other customs. So, when Jesus made the Samaritan the example of what loving one’s neighbor means, he was shaking up the world of his followers.

The outsider heals the wounded – even if the wounded is the insider.

In my experience, the outcasts, the foreigners, the immigrants, have healed me and continue to help making me whole and holy. They make me realize that I need them. I cannot live and flourish without them, without their help that saves and cures me.

That is very clear for me here in Honduras. The poor almost always offer you something to eat. They have helped me repair my car when it’s broken down. They have even opened me to new understanding of scripture.

There are rumors that this weekend ICE will be making massive raids on immigrants, largely Central Americans, preparing to deport them.

And Catholics will be hearing the Gospel of the Good Samaritan at Mass. Will you make the connection?

I will not deliver this homily anywhere, but I wanted to share my reflections with the wider world.

2 responses to “The Good Central American Samaritan

  1. I think I have relayed this message the past, and if so, its time to do it again.

    I don’t know you John, and I can’t recall how I came across your blog, but I truly appreciate the little homilies/lectures/reflections/stories that you offer. I get your blog posts in my email and read them there without coming to the blog to post. Yet thank you for all you do.

    This post hit home as someone who is organizing a Catholic Worker in my community that has seen a dramatic increase in homelessness. And it is a wealthy community that want the unsightly poor and disenfranchised removed, which I think makes it all the more cruel for someone that needs help. I am in the minority of my neighbors who would like me to stop serving as much as they want the homeless gone. I am happy to be likened to the outsider.

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