Ordinary 15th Sunday – WHO-MAN-IS? (HU-MAN-NESS)

Ordinary 15th Sunday

Deut. 30: 10-14                         Col. 1: 15-20                            Lk. 10: 25-37



Human life becomes really human when it revolves around the axis of love.


Challenge of Being Human:

One of the very important challenges of human life is to be human. A careless attitude and a carefree life-style brings out the animal in us. When we do not have proper control and vigilance over our senses and mind, what comes out of us is not humanness, but animality. There is a story about a hermit who often complained that he had so much to do. People wondered about it because he lived all alone, and most of the times he was found to be in meditation. So people asked him to explain what he meant by saying that he had so much to do. His answer was: “I have two eagles to tame, a snake to look after, a donkey to load, a monkey to be trained and a lion to domesticate.” People responded, “For heaven’s sake! you have all these animals with you. We have never seen any of them, though you are with us. Can you please tell us where you are keeping all these animals?”

The hermit responded, “The two eagles are my eyes, which have a tendency to turn in all directions and sometimes to fix themselves onto objects, just as eagles grab and hold prey. It is often hard to tame the eyes. The snake is my tongue which is lurking behind the fence of my teeth. It needs constant vigilance. Otherwise it spews out the venom of words, thus creating problems for me and for others. Then comes the donkey which is my body. How often my body resembles a donkey: It rebels, revolts, starts kicking in all directions, gets uncooperative and stubborn. The monkey which I have is nothing but my mind. It is true that this monkey is greatly helpful to do my works. However it is so agitated and restless that it is very difficult to have control over it. It creates such a nuisance that it makes my life stressed and tensed. Finally I have lion to tame. As lion is the king of animals, so is my heart. Though it is the source of courage and strength, it is also the source of revenge and hatred. If I don’t spend time tackling and taming these animals within me, I soon become an animal myself. So I have so much to do.”

Commandments and Humanness:

One of the challenges, in fact the primary challenge, of religions is to bring out, first of all, the humanness in us, and secondly, the divinity in us. When it is said that human and divine aspects of a person are to be brought out, it simply means that the dimension of love, dormant in a person, is to be helped to find its expression. It is love and love alone that makes us human and divine at the same time. Quite often in our normal day-to-day interactions, what spills out of us is not love, but hatred and anger. It makes us less human.

Moses gave the Israelites the Ten Commandments and other guidelines with the intention of bringing love out of them so that they might become better human beings. A good number of passages in the OT constantly reiterate the importance of following God’s commandments. The first reading is one of them. However, it is a pity that, during the course of history,  the very thing that was offered as the help to bring out love became a hindrance to practise it. If Moses offered the commandments in order to bring humanness out of people, the Pharisees orchestrated a lot of inhumanness precisely in the name of observing the commandments. The gospels bear ample examples for it. In the name of following the commandments, they had made the lives of people burdensome and heavy.

Love and Humanness:

It is at this juncture Jesus came in and said that, though there is nothing wrong as such with regard to  observation of laws and commandments, if this observation is not oriented towards the conversion of heart, which means a life of love, then it is more a problem than a blessing. It was this message that Jesus constantly reiterated in all his preaching. It is this message that is well-communicated in the parable of the Good Samaritan.

As far as Jesus was concerned, whether we follow the commandment or not, is not important. Rather the most important thing is whether we bring love out of us. In a situation in which violence and revenge was the norm of society, Moses tried to enkindle enough of love by encouraging the fellow Israelites to follow the commandments. Now during the time of Jesus the need was such that Jesus encouraged his followers, not merely to follow the laws, but to transcend them and thus to fulfil them. The priest and the Levite in the parable followed the law of the OT (The law forbad the priests to touch the dead or half-dead man – Lev. 21:1-4), but however they transgressed the purpose of the law. On the other hand, the Samaritan in a way transgressed the law, but he fulfilled the purpose of the law.

Needless to say that the world today needs more Good Samaritans – people who revolve around real and genuine love. The good thing is that there are plenty of them around us. We need to just open our eyes, see them and get inspired by them. It is said that in England, there is a group of servicers, known as Samaritans, who offer a voluntary service to others. This is the story how the voluntary group organized itself.

Chad Verah, an Anglican priest in 1953, buried a girl of 18 who had killed herself. He  learned that she might not have done so, if somebody had listened to her trouble. He decided to use his London Church and a telephone line to listen to people. He gave a small advertisement  in a newspaper. In the first week he had about 27 calls. Soon the number of calls began to increase. Within a few months time, he found himself listening and guiding people for 12 hours a day.  It so happened that many more people began to wait for their turn in his outer office. Now what happened was this! Those who were waiting  outside began to share their problems with one another  and thus unburdened themselves. They also became friends which helped them to overcome their loneliness. The priest trained a group of his congregation, who, in turn, trained those, seeking help, in the art of listening and befriending. Those, who came for counselling with the problem of loneliness, became counsellors and went back as friends. A great work, all because of the initiative of one Good Samaritan!

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