Balik-Tanaw | The ‘bad’ samaritan

Union Theological Seminary, Cavite

Ps 69:14, 17, 30-31, 33-34, 36, 37
Dt 30:10-14
Lk 10:25-37

Yes, we love the parable. It is one of the two favorites among Christians: the other being the Prodigal Son.

We identify with the Samaritan. We name our institutions after him. I know of a Good Samaritan Hospital, a Good Samaritan Church, and a Good Samaritan Multi Purpose Credit Cooperative. But before we continue patting each other’s backs and celebrating, let us remember what Samaritan meant during Jesus’s time.

There were at least three groups of people that were most hated and despised during Jesus’s time. Centurions, tax collectors, and Samaritans. These were the bad guys. Jesus’s enemies pejoratively call him a Samaritan.

Priests and Levites were the good guys. They were models of society in word and deed. They were expected to help the wounded: their fellow Jew, on that “bloody way” connecting Jerusalem to Jericho. But they did not.

The bad guy did. Ironically, to this day, the bad guys still do. They continue to help the wounded, rescue the dying, save the half-dead. But we don’t call them Samaritans anymore. We call ourselves that now. We even added a qualifier, the “Good” Samaritan.

But, tragically, we still do not stop and help. We have even come up with the best excuses for our inaction, apathy, and indifference: especially if the wounded is Indigenous, Black, Palestinian, Rohingya, LGBTI+, PLHA, Muslim, communist, or, simply, different from us.

The bad guys do not care about labels. They are red-tagged, vilified, harassed, and demonized. Yet, they continue helping the wounded along the world’s bloody ways. (

Balik-Tanaw is a group blog of Promotion of Church People’s Response. The Lectionary Gospel reflection is an invitation for meditation, contemplation, and action. As we nurture our faith by committing ourselves to journey with the people, we also wish to nourish the perspective coming from the point of view of hope and struggle of the people. It is our constant longing that even as crisis intensifies, the faithful will continue to strengthen their commitment to love God and our neighbor by being one with the people in their dreams and aspirations. The Title of the Lectionary Reflection would be Balik –Tanaw , isang PAGNINILAY . It is about looking back (balik) or revisiting the narratives and stories from the Biblical text and seeing, reading, and reflecting on these with the current context (tanaw).

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