The Good Samaritan
In the state of New Hampshire where I live, “if any person, in good faith, renders emergency care at the place of the happening on an emergency, and if the acts of care are made in good faith and without willful or wanton negligence, the person who renders the care is not liable in civil damages for his acts or omissions in rendering the care. Any person rendering emergency care shall have the duty to place the injured person under the care of a physician, nurse, or other person qualified to care for such person as soon as possible and to obey the instructions of such qualified person.”
This protection is called the Good Samaritan Law.
The parable of the Good Samaritan, along with that of the Prodigal Son, are perhaps the two best known stories that Jesus told that capture the essence of living a faithful life. It is also one that in many ways preaches itself.
In this parable, an expect in the Law, asks for clarity and certainty from Jesus about who it is that he should love as much as God with his whole heart, soul, strength and mind.
“And who is my neighbor?” he asked. “The one who showed mercy to the man who fell into the hands of robbers and was left to die.”
Should events in the world today shape the gospel message and or should the gospel message shape world events?
I don’t know about you: but I’m growing weary. I am not hopeless, for to live without hope would be to deny who we are as Christians. We are people of resurrection.
Elie Wiesel, a survivor of the Holocaust at Auschwitz and Buchenwald, died a week ago. A winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, he was a moral giant who implored the world to never forget.
Wiesel tells the story in one of his many novels of a boy named Michael who was haunted by the image of the man in his village who watched from a window above the square where Jews were being rounded up to be taken away to concentration camps.
Weisel wrote: This, this was the thing I wanted to understand ever since the war. Nothing else. How a human being can remain indifferent. The executioners I understood: also the victims, though with more difficulty. For the others, all the others, those who were neither for nor against, those who sprawled in passive patience, those who told themselves, “The storm will blow over and everything will be normal again,” those who thought themselves about the battle, those who were permanently and merely spectators – all those were closed to me…. How can anyone remain a spectator indefinitely? (from The Town Beyond the Wall)
The Samaritan in the parable made a choice. He would not be a spectator. He did what he could. He came near. He stopped. He cared. He bandaged the man’s wounds and brought him to safety.
The late theologian Robert Webber liked to say, the future of the church is ancient.
Perhaps this ancient story has some wisdom for you and me in troubled times when our nation is on edge.
We have an obligation to each other. We cannot be just spectators.
So, who is my neighbor?
The five fallen in Dallas: