Open Bible:
September 2002 

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The journey from Jerusalem to Jericho




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The journey from Jerusalem to Jericho

The parable of the Good Samaritan is well known (Luke 10, 29-37). The former Head of the Dominicans, Timothy Radcliffe, is renewing this story in his book " Let your joy be perfect" (Cerf, Ed., 2002). He is proposing that it raises the problem of one's own identity. For some the journey from Jerusalem to Jericho means transformations of their identity and for others, keeping attached to their identity, are unable to become the neighbor of the attacked traveler.

Qui est mon prochain?  Jesus began by transforming the question raised by the scribe "Who is my neighbor" by "Who has been the neighbor of the wounded man?" 

In doing this he is insisting on the new established relationship between the traveler and the Samaritan. The traveler who was attacked by the robbers is not given any identity "A certain man" On the contrary those who cross his path are well described, two by their function at the Temple, a priest and a Levite, they are orthodox Jews, the third one is described by his citizenship, a Samaritan, usually known as an heretic and schismatic person. For the first two, the physical contact with blood and with a corpse (it is said that the man was lying half dead) will have made them impure for the service of the Temple where a ritual purity is required. Their attachment to their identity makes them unable to be the neighbor of the wounded man. They are missing an opportunity to be human.

When Jesus asks which of the three proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into robbers' hands, the scribe does not name: "The Samaritan", but says "the neighbor is the one who showed mercy toward him". Thus, the Samaritan loses the negative image he had in the eyes of the Jews. He becomes a new man, merciful. The wounded man himself, with no identity, can be identified to anyone in need and requiring assistance. He is no more an anonymous bypasser, seen as a menace, but he is perceived as a vulnerable person toward who we can show compassion and concern.

s'interroger  In these changing times of ours, there are many who wonder about their identity. Often this calling into question causes tension about the identity received, without which we don't exist.  

The other, the stranger, the person who is different appears as a menace from which we must protect ourselves. On the other hand, others accept to be transformed by an unespected meeting and this change is not an impoverishment, but an enrichment of their identity. One's identity is shaped not only by external causes, it is also formed by the choices we make.

Is the meaning of this parable not going further in putting into play even the identity of God's identity?

Indeed can it not be said that God himself has not hesitated to change his identity to wait for us in a deprived and broken up form lying on the side of the road.  sur le bord de la route