Buddhist-Catholic Dialogue — Sharing “The Parable of the Good Samaritan”

A "Buddhist-Catholic Dialogue" was held online July 22 — a total of 7 people attended. Continuing from the previous discussion of “Icchantika”, Convener Michael Kerze invited Prof. James L. Fredricks from Loyola Marymount University to share his perspective on the “Parable of the Good Samaritan.”

In the New Testament, Jesus Christ was approached by a Jewish man of law, and he depicted his answer with the story of the “Good Samaritan.” In ancient Israel, the Samaritans were considered a lowly race of people. But in this parable, when confronted with a merchant beaten by robbers and left injured at the roadside, this good Samaritan had the compassion to tend to him and send him to an inn to recover. This story reminds us that, no matter how poor or socially disadvantaged you are, if you are compassionate and always think more of others, everyone can be a respected “Good Samaritan.”

In his response, Rev. Brenion mentioned that when the Buddha established the Sangha, he advocated for equality among his disciples regardless of their caste. Take for example, Upali was a barber before he renounced. The Sakyan princes renounced after him; therefore, Upali preceded them in seniority, and so whenever the former Sakyan princes saw Upali, they were expected to bow to him in respect as well.

Father Alexei said, at the height of Islamophobia in the US, he shared this same parable with his parishioners. He recalled his experience of getting lost in a crowd, in Jerusalem, and being saved by a Good Samaritan—a local Muslim boy. A gentleman from his parish stood up and said, he didn’t get the “Parable of the Good Samaritan,” but now he does!

Finally, Convener Michael Kerze stated that, due to the high regards of individualism in western cultures, people of our society emphasized more on individual rights, and forgot about their responsibility in our own society. Therefore, he suggested we discuss more on the topic of “Rights & Responsibility” from the perspective of our respective faith. As the session came to a close, everyone was looking forward to the next upcoming dialogue.