Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Good Samaritan, good neighbor

I was sad to hear several stories covered in the news about people who were hurt and no one stopped to help them. In some cases, this resulted in a fatality. This morning's news, for the first time, was balanced with an act of kindness saving someone's life. A girl was on an overnight bike ride through on a trail in a forest when she was attacked by a bear. A guy came by later and found her. He stopped, held her in his arms, comforted her. She was able to hand him her cell phone and he tried 911 twice before calling the ride superviser. He stayed with her until help arrived. She has a long road to recovery but will survive.

I am reminded of the parable Jesus told of the Good Samaritan. In this story, a man is travelling from Jerusalem to Jericho when he is jumped by bandits who beat him, robbed him, and left him to die. A rabbi and a priest see the man, but choose to pass by. It is a Samaritan who stops to render aid. First of all, Jerusalem is the religious capital of the Holy Lands in Jesus' time. Jericho was their equivalent of Las Vegas. The man was on his way from one to the other. We can draw some conclusions from that. But he certainly did not deserve what happened along the way. We all know people who are headed down the wrong road when disaster strikes. The circumstances are not the issue. Our response to them is.

The rabbi checks to see if it is someone from his congregation. When it is not, he just leaves him in the road and continues on his way. The priest does the same. Both miss a wonderful opportunity to practice what they preach about loving your neighbor as yourself. It is a Samaratin, a member of a despised race, who stops. He is the one who actually lives up to Jesus' command. Notice how he deals with the situation for it is a pattern for us to follow when faced with this kind of thing.

Compassion. He binds up his wounds. A kind word of encouragement, a pause to listen to someone's troubles, the opportunity to restore someone's self respect. The man poured in oil, to soothe, and wine, to cleanse. Those were costly remedies in the East and he gave generously to a stranger. He could have felt he had done enough at that point. But he does more. He puts the wounded man on his own beast, he now has to walk the rest of the way. He brings him to the inn where he is staying. Surely, he could have dropped him off at the local shelter and have done enough. But the Samaritan does more. He must have been a frequent visitor to this place for the innkeeper knows him and trusts him. He leaves the man in their care, paying up front and pledging whatever else will be needed. He will repay it on his next visit.

This was living the law of Love. This is the true sense of binding up the broken hearted. Think how that man must have felt, lying there wounded and ignored. What value he would put on consolation. The Samaritan walked along beside him. Surely today you can find a moment to 'walk beside someone'. You don't have to take them 'home' as in where you reside, but you can take them 'home' into what you are believing about them, what you are thinking. Judge not but show compassion and someday you may be on the recieving end when you need it most. Take care of that person in the sense of knowing that they cannot be separated from God's Love, no matter how many poor decisions they might make. Never fear being generous to others. God has told you "All that I have it thine".

The young man that stopped to help that girl did not know her. He stopped anyway. He did what he could to bind up her wounds and stay with her until help arrived. Then he went his way. We need to hear more stories like that. So many seem Jericho-bound.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Recently in the news, there was a story about a young soldier in Iraq. A gunner, who was stationed in a HumV gun turret. Gunners in HumV’s sit in a hole at top of the vehicle and can rotate around to shoot enemy combatants.

While on patrol one day, a hand-grenade was tossed thru the turret hole into the HumV and became lodged within. The 19 yr. old didn’t have time to dislodge the hand-grenade nor to warn his comrades about the danger.

The young gunner dropped down inside the vehicle and covered the hand-grenade with his own body, shielding his buddies and saving their lives. He could have jumped off the vehicle and saved himself, but he made a different decision. His decision saved 4 lives.

He was awarded, posthumously, the highest medal of honor, the Medal of Honor, available by President Bush. An aptly named medal if ever there was one.

Where does courage like this come from? From what great wellspring do such selfless acts arise? The answer to these questions are between he and God - found hidden within the truly wondrous example of a 19 yr. old.