You’re lying by the roadside, bruised and bleeding from a car accident, and the local folks keep driving on by – nobody will help. Then someone stops, but he’s one of those south-of-the-border types you’ve been told never to trust. What’s he going to do to you?
We have domesticated the parable of the Good Samaritan into a “nice” kind of Mr.-Rogers-good-neighbor story. But it’s not…far from it. It’s a frightening tale of violence on dangerous streets, and neighbors too scared or apathetic to help. It’s a story of “my kind of people” walking on by, and a stranger from a despised foreign nation stopping. Then, the fear drains away as that hated foreigner staunches the bleeding, binds the wounds, and takes his sworn enemy down the road to rest and heal at an inn. It’s a story of unexpected mercy, lavish generosity, and the miracle of reconciliation.
Jesus told this story to show us how the Kingdom of God really works. It’s meant to shock us, amaze us, and make us rethink our prejudices and assumptions about “who is our neighbor.” This is a story for this moment in history, when fear is the byword in our political discourse, and nationalism is rearing its ugly head. Jesus reminds us that love comes from unexpected sources, and we may need help from neighbors who look and speak and think differently from us.
On Veterans’ Day, we remember those who serve our country and make great sacrifices, often to defend peoples in other lands, and share the mercy of our country with people hit by natural disasters. They cross boundaries of race, color, and creed without prejudice. We give thanks for their service, pray for their safety, and celebrate their witness to freedom, justice, and compassion. JBM