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Saturday, April 7

Easter Weekend

The pope has written his first book. I detect some irony here.

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) ... In the 400-page book, called "Jesus of Nazareth," the Pope offers a modern application of Jesus's parable of the Good Samaritan, who stopped to help a man who had been robbed by thieves when others, including a priest, had not.

"The current relevance of the parable is obvious," the Pope writes.

"If we apply it to the dimensions of globalised society today, we see how the populations of Africa have been plundered and sacked and this concerns us intimately," the Pope says in his book, which comes out on April 16, his 80th birthday.

He drew a link between the lifestyle of people in the developed world and the dire conditions of people in Africa.

"We see how our lifestyle, the history that involved us, has stripped them naked and continues to strip them naked," he writes.

The German Pope, who has condemned the effects of colonialism before, said rich countries had also hurt poor countries spiritually by belittling or trying to wipe out their own cultural and spiritual traditions.

"Instead of giving them God, the God close to us in Christ, and welcoming in their traditions all that is precious and great ... we have brought them the cynicism of a world without God, where only power and profit count...," he writes.

The Pope says his comments were valid for other regions apart from Africa."

Blonde Easter Weekend Editorial:

The parable of the Good Samaritan.
What it really meant then and what it means now.

Speaking of the Parable of the Good Samaritan, did you know that what made this parable so shocking in its time, was that Samaritans were reviled by the Jews at the time of Jesus. They were looked down upon and were considered "half-breeds" because of their mixed blood and also spiritual half-breeds because their bible only consisted of the Pentateuch. To Jews at that time, only full blooded Jews were considered worthy of being treated as "neighbors" that were worth loving as one's self. Jesus' point in the story is that everyone is to be treated as one's neighbor.

Today, people seem to have lost the point of the 'Good Samaritan' parable and just about anyone can be called a 'Good Samaritan' if they help someone else. That's really beside the point of the parable. If I help my next door neighbor in a crisis, I am not a 'Good Samaritan' unless I am a Hatfield and my neighbor is a McCoy. Being a 'Good Samaritan' means that you overlook your prejudices and biases and reach out to someone else even if that person is your enemy. A good example today would be a Palestinian man helping a wounded Israeli soldier lying by the side of the road or vice versa.

Since stories were passed down through oral tradition at the time of Jesus, often they were delivered in very stark contrast, in black and white terms, to make them memorable. You were not to take the words literally- you were just supposed to get the point. A "Good Samaritan" was an oxymoron and that was why it was remembered.

The lesson to be learned from the "Good Samaritan" is about having compassion- the ability to put yourself in someone else's shoes. If we are caught up in laws and rules and traditions, people often lose their compassion. Often priests would take biblical traditions literally (the tradition at that time being that your "neighbor" was only your fellow full blooded Jew) and they ended up being quite unkind, un-compassionate, and unforgiving to not only their own people, but especially to those of different cultures and beliefs (kind of like religious leaders today and throughout the history of religion).

Jesus railed against the religious hypocrites as seen in his exhortations against the Pharisees when he challenged them for sticking to tradition over having compassion (and even common sense in many instances). Some examples from the many many passsages relating to this topic:
Matthew 15:1-20
John 8:4-9
Matthew 12:1-14 (my favorite example)

You can understand why they didn't take to his teachings so well and plotted to kill Jesus. (Matthew 12:14)

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