The WORD in Other Words by Fr Dionisio Miranda SVD (Philippines)
15th Sunday OT, Dt 30:10-14, Col 1:15-20, Lk 10:25-37
Think “victim” and several types spring to mind. (a) The immediate association is of an individual as object of random violence from criminal elements, like the one in today‘s parable. (b) Another is the set of victims who suffer the curse of natural disasters. Recall the misfortune and pain of people caused by earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, tsunamis and lightning strikes. (c) Miserable as well are those trapped in someone else‘s war — whether this conflict be among tribes, nations, political groups or, in recent experience, the government‘s violent war against drugs. (d) Finally there is wretchedness due to traditions and institutions which wreak havoc on vulnerable populations because of resident evil in the design and operation of their systems–and which theology aptly calls “structures of sin.”
If all these are true victims and Christians are to be neighbors to them according to the instruction of Jesus, how do we show each of them the mercy and compassion of God? The following might be helpful starters to both reflection and action, not only for educators but for other professions as well.
Len—Len was not the type of person I would have prioritized for a scholarship — she was not among the poorest of the poor; she had siblings who had jobs, granted that these were not high—salaried ones. But I helped her when her only benefactor had run out of means to help her hurdle the “last mile.” I helped, quite simply, because she asked; she was the neighbor in front of me.
When Yolanda struck, the academic community of the University of San Carlos responded, on its own and together with civil society, organizing groups for the greatest impact, intentionally targeting areas we surmised the state would not prioritize. So effective and efficient was USC ‘s response that a critic of “elite schools” acknowledged that they can be powerful instruments for good. Institutions in general have resources and processes to respond to need massively and forcefully; their “neighborliness” is not limited to personal relationships; help is targeted in terms of the objective need of anonymous victims.
Marawi forcefully reminds us that armed conflict has long been responsible for internal displacement of entire families and communities, making it impossible for children to study in peace and learn how to live with others in peace. Accordingly Catholic schools in search of brand features which distinguish their service may want to adopt education for peace, reconciliation and healing as their unique contribution to creating zones of peace and neighborhoods of tolerance, acceptance and solidarity.
As the educational reforms take hold, we need to raise issues of educational injustice. Many social, economic, political, cultural and even religious ills are traceable to the lack of access to, and the poor delivery of, quality education. Younger people cannot find jobs or keep them. Absent professionals and specialists, the economy cannot expand, industry cannot innovate, culture cannot evolve, politics cannot mature, religion cannot inspire and so on. Without armies of scientists, engineers, researchers, philosophers and artists we will stagnate longer as a third world country without pride in itself or hope for its future. In face of such plentiful victims Christians should find countless opportunities to act as “educational Samaritans” towards education— challenged neighbors. Education, Pope Francis reminds us, is a spiritual work of mercy more far—reaching than others, for it opens the minds to possibilities to hope. That is perhaps why after Savior and Healer one of Jesus‘ most characteristic titles is that of Teacher.