Ministers of Compassion and Charity
The deluge and the recent floods in Sydney area has been devastating. I spoke with the priest of flood-ravaged Windsor parish. Only one parishioner could come to Sunday mass there. The roads were cut, and their properties were under water or affected otherwise. A massive number of people were evacuated from their homes. Any hand in this need is a neighbour in deed to them.
The Good Samaritan story (Luke 10:25-37) was an eye opener for the pious Jews. They did not have any qualms about leaving the victim of a violent robbery unattended by the roadside. There was a good reason to justify the lack of concern from the Jewish religious leaders, priest and the Levy, in the story. Attending to the bloodied victim would have ritually defiled them, which in turn will prohibit them from performing their religious duties. They did not want to be deflected from their religious duties, so to be justified before God. But Jesus taught differently.
Religion does not absolve you from your social responsibilities; in fact a truly religious person would be equally aware of his or her social responsibility especially to those who are vulnerable. Anyone who loves God is also bound to love his neighbour. No faith-filled person can put on blinkers and think that just doing the prayers and rituals will justify him before God. Our faith expression demands acts of mercy and compassion. Disaster assistance, refugee issues, charity support, and social policy discussions are all to be part of our religious practice. Calling ‘religion’ as a private affair is a fallacy. Our Christian faith is public and it has social consequences. Our God has come down to the messiness of human life to lift us out of it. But God wants you and me to be with Him to do it. In following Jesus to the Kingdom of God, we too need to bend down to the downtrodden to be justified by our saviour. Christians are anointed to be ministers of compassion and charity.