Monday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time
(Jonah 1:1-2:2.11; Luke 10:25-37)
A few years ago a leading Catholic university removed the crucifixes from its classrooms. Having a multi-ethnic student body, the university administration reasoned that the crucifixes might offend students of other religious traditions. One Muslim student, however, was bothered by the removal. After all, he asked, what kind of guest would he be if he could not respect the symbols and artifacts of his hosts’ religion? Eventually, the crucifixes were returned to the classrooms, and their removal, no doubt, was attributed to political correctness.
The Book of the Prophet Jonah similarly testifies to people from other religions showing greater sensibility to true religion than they of the dominant tradition. Jonah, the Jew, is disgusted with the Lord for his parallel love of other peoples. He flees when God commands him to preach in the city of Nineveh, Israel’s captors. In his flight the sailors on the ship that transports Jonah show more regard for the Lord than he. They pray to God for help and shudder to think that their act of appeasement may not please God.
We find Jesus making a similar point in the gospel. He describes the Samaritan who comes to the aid of the dying stranger as giving God greater praise than the priest and Levite who, most likely for liturgical reason, would not touch him. Everyone is wise to recognize the Holy Spirit working among different peoples and religions just as surely as it lavishes graces upon her or him.