Last week was the fiery inferno of all periods in Ateneo, FINAL EXAMINATIONS. Those happened in May, but thinking about them felt like Halloween came early this year. The evil sasquatch even existed in the form of a 14-page report on predicting IMdB ratings of Yu-Gi-Oh after two decades.
Thus, everyone became busy, a valid reaction since the tests make up a huge chunk of our final grades. Unless you’re exempted, failure to complete the exams means a close-to-100-percent probability of a permanent F in your transcript of records. Definitely, you would not let anyone–friends, family, school, company HR managers–know that you messed up big time. Otherwise, you can kiss your million-dollar dream goodbye. The pressure is on in college; those last four years of becoming a student are the necessary preparations for each potential undergraduates to bring food on top of the table.
All these were in my head–my Latin honors, my career, my family, my future–until everything became my world. I was busy to teach my brother exponential growth, which came out in his Math final the following day. I was even busy to read all 100+ text messages and chats from my mother who was worried sick for me everyday.
Yes, I was that busy for everything about me. Too busy. Miserable, right?
Despite that whole commotion, Jesus completely understands, for He Himself was also busy during His walk on earth. The difference was that He was busy for others. While He was in Judea, He mentioned the parable of the Good Samaritan who “proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers” (Luke 10:36, ESV). Here’s what I got:
- Everyone saw the half-dead man.
“Now by chance, a priest was going that road, and when he saw him….” (Luke 10:31, ESV)
“So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him….” (Luke 10:32, ESV)
“But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him….” (Luke 10:33, ESV)
Everyone had seen the man, stripped, beaten, injured, thieved, and broken by robbers in the road to Jericho. Clearly, he had a face of a victim who might not live for another day through his last sands of time. That insight is valid because the three saw the man. A note to consider is that the three are a priest, a Levite, and a Samaritan who came to the same route but was not beaten up by robbers. Hence, two realities have come to play, “victors” and a victim in the road to Jericho.
Similarly, we have two realities in our hands–Filipinos vs. those who are not Filipinos, students of Ateneo de Manila University vs. those who are not of the college, politicians vs. those who are not politicians. The analogy may be offensive to some, but it has shed light on the existence of a reality beyond me–me vs. those who are not like me. We recognize an outside reality if we see it. Then, the world today is not really my world after all.
- Doing nothing means you are busy doing nothing.
“…he [the priest] passed by on the other side.” (Luke 10:31, ESV)
“…[the Levite] passed by on the other side.” (Luke 10:32, ESV)
How can one be busy? If he has mountains of papers to do? If he cancels all socializations? If he leaves a million googols of text messages with no replies at all?
For the entire week of my final examinations, I was married to my cue cards for pointers and summaries of lessons. In the middle of my writing, a Facebook bump sounded my laptop, with a message from a close friend, inviting me to a gym-and-swimming session at 6PM. My working out and doing laps with him hours later “un-busied” myself, stopping my final preparations and burning my fats and toning my muscles with him. Hence, to know that I am busy with A, I must stop doing A to do B.
In the same way, the priest and the Levite were busy doing nothing unconsciously. Upon seeing the half-dead man, they returned to whatever they were doing, walking through the road to Jericho. Hence, they were busy without being aware they were. Comparatively, the Samaritan played his character differently:
“…and when he [the Samaritan] saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine.” (Luke 10:33,34, ESV)
Thus, the Samaritan “un-busied” himself from walking down the road and became busy in covering up the wounds of the half-dead man. The transition, then, is from being busy for me to being busy for others.
- Show mercy.
“’Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?’ He said, ‘The one who showed him mercy.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘You go, and do likewise.’” (Luke 10:36,37, ESV)
One note to be aware of is that the scholar’s answer is not the Samaritan but a general definition of a neighbor, “the one who showed him mercy.” Hence, to piece together everything discussed, to be merciful is to un-busy oneself to be busy for others. This gives a proper foreshadow of the un-busying to come–Jesus un-busied His humanity to be busy for the salvation of all. The ultimate un-business is His death on the cross. He stopped being pure to become sin so that through Him, we can be as white as snow.
Tell me. Who is that neighbor in your life? Who is that one person whom you want to be a neighbor to? ~ Zachary Bisenio