Given the low level to which we’ve sunk in our political and social discourse, I thought it apropos to write an essay on the Parable of the Samaritan.
Below is the parable, according to the King James Version, courtesy of Project Gutenberg.
10:25 And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? 10:26 He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? 10:27 And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.
10:28 And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.
10:29 But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour? 10:30 And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
10:31 And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
10:32 And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.
10:33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, 10:34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
10:35 And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.
10:36 Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? 10:37 And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.
Various writers attempted to ‘explain’ the parable in a variety of ways. Some almost make sense, and others are so far off the mark that one wonders how the authors functioned without caregivers. No doubt the audience for the parable would have had some idea of why a priest and a Levite, Temple duties already fulfilled, would leave a man lying (living or dead) by the road.
And then along comes the Samaritan, who does what they refused to do.
Wikipedia has an entire article on the Samaritans – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samaritans#Tensions_between_the_Samaritans_and_the_Judeans – that goes into their history and their modern situation.
Back in the time of Christ, the Samaritans and the Jews were not on speaking terms. The article mentions many of the conflicts, but basically, the Samaritans were not considered ‘true’ Jews. They were despised and abused by the majority population.
Jesus was telling his listeners that even a Samaritan could do right and good.
Right now, we have people who call themselves Christian going out of their way to mistreat those who are not Christian, who are LGBTQ, who are disabled, who are not of Northern European ancestry – basically, abusing all those outside a very narrow slice of humanity. They always wanted to do these things but dared not because society condemned such behavior.
It’s time for us to be the Samaritan of the parable: doing good for the victims of violence while the rest of society either stands silently by or assaults those who are different. Doing good for those who are despised because it is the right thing to do.