Encountering others: beyond your boundaries, beyond your concepts, beyond your understandings
For a week in the July holidays 38 students and 12 teachers from Good Samaritan schools came together in Sydney to participate in Ministry Outreach. The program provides an experience for students who are willing to respond to the opportunity to live out our Good Samaritan Benedictine values in a very practical way. Students gain an insight into the lives of those in our community who face the daily challenge of poverty and homelessness. They seek to respond to the question “who is my neighbour?’ and to then “go and do likewise….”
I was privileged to have been given the opportunity to accompany some students from Mount St Benedict College to attend the Ministry Outreach Program organised by the Good Samaritan Education Mission Team during the Term 2 holidays. Although it was a jam-packed week with little time to rest, it was a reflective experience that changed my perceptions and has impacted greatly on the way I see things, hear things, do things and believe in things.
Being brought up in a Good Samaritan school and now having the opportunity to teach in one, most would think that the parable of the Good Samaritan would be well drilled into me and that I know it back to front. After listening to Sr. Meg’s sharing of the parable and also in my encounters with so many people from different walks of life, I now see the parable in a completely different light. One particular concept that stood out for me was the idea of pre-judgement. In the parable, not only did the man who fell into the hands of robbers receive prejudice from the Levite and the priest, but I myself, always judged and had a slight hint of anger towards the Levite and the priest for leaving the man stranded without considering their own circumstances and perhaps what obligations or reasons they had for not helping the man.
Too often we jump to conclusions and we end up denying ourselves an opportunity to listen to other stories and be transformed by them. As one of the students in my service group said, “Miss, this is supposed to be us helping them, but in fact they have helped me. I just wish I could let them know.” I couldn’t agree more. Although my role was primarily an ‘observer’ throughout the week, I couldn’t help but feel inspired and touched by the exchange of stories between the students and the people that they reached out to ranging from young refugee children, intellectually disabled adults or the homeless. An exchange of all kinds – from playing games with children, sharing a meal with the homeless, making Christmas cards with the elderly or even having a dance over some chicken casserole with the volunteer staff at the Soup Kitchen!
I expected this experience to be emotionally draining but it turns out that it has been an inspirational one. I’m inspired by the people who have so much passion in supporting the marginalised and they do it by listening to their stories without prejudice. I’m inspired by the people we reached out to and how they value the simplest yet most important things that we tend to overlook. I’m inspired by our students who feel the need to make a difference and for being courageous enough to let this experience transform them. I’m inspired knowing that every single person is made in the image of God irrespective of their circumstances and their value and ability to be living examples of Jesus Christ and to share His love with others is beyond measure!
Christina Liu – Mount St Benedict College, Pennant Hills