Yesterday was the third session of the Lent Reflection Series I am offering at the University of St. Thomas School of Law on the theme Praying with Jesus’ Parables. Our subjects this week were the parables of the Good Samaritan and of the Rich Man and Lazarus.
As the parables always do, these two challenge us to look beyond the surface meanings. The Good Samaritan parable, for example, is always cited as an encouragement to aid strangers in need. Similarly in the Rich Man and Lazarus – which suggests punishment awaits those who don’t help those in need. However Jesus’ Jewish audience was well-aware of their obligation to help strangers and care for the needy; they didn’t need a parable to tell them that.
I shared some thoughts on both parables in my talk, drawing from sources that include Martin Luther King, Jr., Pope Francis, Walter Kaspar, Amy Jill-Levine, James Martin, and George Martin.