The Other Side of the Sticker

First Reading: Deuteronomy 30:10-14

Moses said to the people:
“If only you would heed the voice of the LORD, your God,
and keep his commandments and statutes
that are written in this book of the law,
when you return to the LORD, your God,
with all your heart and all your soul.

“For this command that I enjoin on you today
is not too mysterious and remote for you.
It is not up in the sky, that you should say,
‘Who will go up in the sky to get it for us
and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?’
Nor is it across the sea, that you should say,
‘Who will cross the sea to get it for us
and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?’
No, it is something very near to you,
already in your mouths and in your hearts;
you have only to carry it out.”

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 69:14, 17, 30-31, 33-34, 36, 37

R. (cf. 33) Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live.
I pray to you, O LORD,
for the time of your favor, O God!
In your great kindness answer me
with your constant help.
Answer me, O LORD, for bounteous is your kindness:
in your great mercy turn toward me.
R. Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live.
I am afflicted and in pain;
let your saving help, O God, protect me.
I will praise the name of God in song,
and I will glorify him with thanksgiving.
R. Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live.
“See, you lowly ones, and be glad;
you who seek God, may your hearts revive!
For the LORD hears the poor,
and his own who are in bonds he spurns not.”
R. Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live.
For God will save Zion
and rebuild the cities of Judah.
The descendants of his servants shall inherit it,
and those who love his name shall inhabit it.
R. Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live.

Second Reading: Colossians 1:15-20

Christ Jesus is the image of the invisible God,
the firstborn of all creation.
For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth,
the visible and the invisible,
whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers;
all things were created through him and for him.
He is before all things,
and in him all things hold together.
He is the head of the body, the church.
He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead,
that in all things he himself might be preeminent.
For in him all the fullness was pleased to dwell,
and through him to reconcile all things for him,
making peace by the blood of his cross
through him, whether those on earth or those in heaven.

Gospel: Luke 10:25-37

There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test him and said,
“Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus said to him, “What is written in the law?
How do you read it?”
He said in reply,
“You shall love the Lord, your God,
with all your heart,
with all your being,
with all your strength,
and with all your mind,
and your neighbor as yourself.”
He replied to him, “You have answered correctly;
do this and you will live.”

But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus,
“And who is my neighbor?”
Jesus replied,
“A man fell victim to robbers
as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho.
They stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half-dead.
A priest happened to be going down that road,
but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side.
Likewise a Levite came to the place,
and when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side.
But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him
was moved with compassion at the sight.
He approached the victim,
poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them.
Then he lifted him up on his own animal,
took him to an inn, and cared for him.
The next day he took out two silver coins
and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction,
‘Take care of him.
If you spend more than what I have given you,
I shall repay you on my way back.’
Which of these three, in your opinion,
was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?”
He answered, “The one who treated him with mercy.”
Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”



Does anyone still collect stickers? Well, when I was little, everyone did. The scratch and sniff ones were great, the puffy ones, the fuzzy ones, all excellent. But my favorite was a lenticular sticker of a kid on a slide. If you looked at it from one side, he was at the top of the slide, but if you tilted it, boom, he was at the bottom. Mind blown. Every time.

The parable of the Good Samaritan is kinda like that.

If you look at it one way, Jesus is pretty clearly giving some good advice to the scholar who asked Him the question, and to us. The priest and the Levite crossed the road and kept going. Don’t be those guys. The hated Samaritan is the one who treated the injured man with love and compassion. So . . . DO be that guy. Also, don’t be a xenophobe.

But if you tip the parable over just a little, you can see it a whole different way. Origen, a third century theologian, put forth an allegorical interpretation that he indicated was already an established tradition of the early Church.

If we see the story as an allegory, it looks something like this:

The man left for dead on the side of the road is Adam (and, by extension, us).

Jerusalem is paradise.

Jericho is the world.

The robbers are sin and vice.

The priest is the law.

The Levite is the prophets.

The Samaritan is Christ.

The inn is the Catholic Church.

The two silver coins are scripture and tradition.

The Samaritan’s promise is the second coming.

Mind blown?

Me too.

The story of the Good Samaritan, seen from this side, isn’t just some once upon-a-time-type good advice. It’s the story of each of us, still going on, right this very moment. WE are that victim, suffering the effects of sin and vice, but redeemed by Christ, ministered to by the Church, and awaiting the second coming. And THAT is pretty cool. Like, front of the sticker album cool.

Do you need a perspective shift on something that’s been bothering you in life right now? Can you look at it through a totally different lens to get perspective? Ask a close friend, or a spiritual director. See if there’s a better way to get the whole picture.

photo credit

Kendra Tierney lives in Los Angeles, CA where her interests include blogging, homeschooling, looking after her eight children, and fixing up a hundred year old tumbledown mansion. You can find out more about her here.

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