The Good Samaritan

I’m not religious (being agnostic and all) but I went to Sunday School when I was a kid and so have heard the Parable of the Good Samaritan (go here for the passage):

25 Behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read it?”
27 He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind;(Deuteronomy 6:5) and your neighbor as yourself.”(Leviticus 19:18)
28 He said to him, “You have answered correctly. Do this, and you will live.”
29 But he, desiring to justify himself, asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?”
30 Jesus answered, “A certain man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who both stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31  By chance a certain priest was going down that way. When he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32  In the same way a Levite also, when he came to the place, and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33  But a certain Samaritan, as he traveled, came where he was. When he saw him, he was moved with compassion, 34  came to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. He set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35  On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the host, and said to him, ‘Take care of him. Whatever you spend beyond that, I will repay you when I return.’ 36  Now which of these three do you think seemed to be a neighbor to him who fell among the robbers?”
37 He said, “He who showed mercy on him.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
A bit of background: Samaritans and Jews came from the same religious background but had split and now didn’t like each other much. So if you replace the injured man with someone from your group and the Samaritan with someone from a group that you don’t get along with, you get the idea of what Jesus what saying. Martin Luther King Jr. looks at this here in a fairly famous way here (in his I’ve been to the mountaintop speech in Memphis):

One day a man came to Jesus and he wanted to raise some questions about some vital matters of life. At points he wanted to trick Jesus, and show him that he knew a little more than Jesus knew and throw him off base.  Now that question could have easily ended up in a philosophical and theological debate. But Jesus immediately pulled that question from midair and placed it on a dangerous curve between Jerusalem and Jericho.  And he talked about a certain man who fell among thieves. You remember that a Levite and a priest passed by on the other side; they didn’t stop to help him. Finally, a man of another race came by. He got down from his beast, decided not to be compassionate by proxy. But he got down with him, administered first aid, and helped the man in need. Jesus ended up saying this was the good man, this was the great man because he had the capacity to project the “I” into the “thou,” and to be concerned about his brother.

Now, you know, we use our imagination a great deal to try to determine why the priest and the Levite didn’t stop. At times we say they were busy going to a church meeting, an ecclesiastical gathering, and they had to get on down to Jerusalem so they wouldn’t be late for their meeting. At other times we would speculate that there was a religious law that one who was engaged in religious ceremonials was not to touch a human body twenty-four hours before the ceremony. And every now and then we begin to wonder whether maybe they were not going down to Jerusalem, or down to Jericho, rather, to organize a Jericho Road Improvement Association.  That’s a possibility. Maybe they felt it was better to deal with the problem from the causal root, rather than to get bogged down with an individual effect.

But I’m going to tell you what my imagination tells me. It’s possible that those men were afraid. You see, the Jericho Road is a dangerous road.  I remember when Mrs. King and I were first in Jerusalem. We rented a car and drove from Jerusalem down to Jericho.  And as soon as we got on that road I said to my wife, “I can see why Jesus used this as the setting for his parable.” It’s a winding, meandering road.  It’s really conducive for ambushing. You start out in Jerusalem, which is about twelve hundred miles, or rather, twelve hundred feet above sea level. And by the time you get down to Jericho fifteen or twenty minutes later, you’re about twenty-two feet below sea level. That’s a dangerous road.  In the days of Jesus it came to be known as the “Bloody Pass.” And you know, it’s possible that the priest and the Levite looked over that man on the ground and wondered if the robbers were still around.  Or it’s possible that they felt that the man on the ground was merely faking , and he was acting like he had been robbed and hurt in order to seize them over there, lure them there for quick and easy seizure. And so the first question that the priest asked, the first question that the Levite asked was, “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?”

But then the Good Samaritan came by, and he reversed the question: “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?” That’s the question before you tonight.

Now let’s see what Republicans are saying about Syrian refugees (from here, here, and here):

More than half the nation’s governors say they oppose letting Syrian refugees into their states, although the final say on this contentious immigration issue will fall to the federal government.

States protesting the admission of refugees range from Alabama and Georgia, to Texas and Arizona, to Michigan and Illinois, to Maine and New Hampshire. Among these 31 states, all but one have Republican governors.

“We cannot let terrorists take advantage of our compassion,” (Speaker of the House) Ryan said Tuesday after meeting with House Republicans. “This is a moment where it’s better to be safe than to be sorry.”

Most of the Republican presidential candidates have called for the program (a program to bring in refugees) to be suspended, though Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas wants to make exceptions for Christians.

Breaking from the pack, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush shifted his approach Tuesday and said the U.S. should not do away with its “noble tradition” of helping refugees.

In a letter to Ryan, Ben Carson — the retired neurosurgeon and a Republican front-runner — called for Congress to block funding for any programs “that seek to resettle refugees and/or migrants from Syria into the United States, effective immediately.”

“Until we can sort out the bad guys we must not be foolish,” Carson said in a news conference in Nevada.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee similarly heaped pressure on Ryan, saying in a statement: “Speaker Ryan needs to make it clear that if the President won’t stand to protect America from wholesale open borders, then Republicans will.”

“If Ryan will not lead and reject the importation of those fleeing the Middle East without assurances that we can separate refugees from terrorists, then Speaker Ryan needs to step down today and let someone else lead,” Huckabee said.

In addition, Govs. John Kasich and Bobby Jindal of Ohio and Louisiana, respectively, said they would work to keep refugees out of their states.

All of these men claim to be Christians (hell, Huckabee is a minister), which means they all know about the Good Samaritan and what they are supposed to do if they want to go to heaven. It turns out they are all the Priest or Levite in the story (if you look at King’s interpretation you can see that’s exactly what they are) and, according to Jesus, not good neighbors.

Now, as I said above, I’m not a Christian and so I want the people to be screened before they’re accepted into the US, which is already being done–the process takes 18-24 months, but I want the US to help these people even if they end up in my neighborhood. I guess I’m just more of a Christian than all those Republicans.

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