By NEMS Daily Journal
And behold, a lawyer stood up to put [Jesus] to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”
But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” – Luke 10:25-37
A reading of Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan makes plain that we have an individual responsibility in meeting the urgent needs of other individuals in crisis.
We may debate the respective roles that governments, organized charities, churches and other collectives may play in easing people’s suffering, but Jesus shows that no collective effort can excuse us of personal responsibility, and no effort to address the needs of classes of people can substitute for addressing the needs of a person.
The Good Samaritan may later have petitioned government leaders for more police presence on the highway between Jerusalem and Jericho.
He may have suggested each town send out donkey patrols to check for anyone along the way who was unable to continue the trip on his own power and thus needed a ride.
The Good Samaritan may have appealed to civic leaders to create a hospital to care for people beaten half to death. He may have asked temple leaders to start a fund that would furnish crime victims some cash to get back on their financial feet after being robbed.
All these ideas the Good Samaritan may have proposed; we are not told in the parable.
What we do know is this: One person risked his own safety (not knowing whether the robbers still lay in wait), set aside his own convenience, gave his own effort, donated his own money and sacrificed his own time to help another person whose only claim on him was to be a fellow human being.
If all these factors hadn’t been convicting enough, Jesus chose to speak about a Samaritan having compassion for a Jew – two men who normally would have treated each other with contempt and loathing.
The imperative for believers today is just as it was when Jesus commanded the self-justifying lawyer: “You go, and do likewise.”