We’ve just heard what we now know today to be the parable of the Good Samaritan. This expression – Good Samaritan — is so widely known that, no matter whether someone has faith or not, many people can speak of a Good Samaritan as someone who voluntarily comes to the aid of a person in need, even though they have no obligation to do so.
Unfortunately, for those of us who do follow Jesus, that description is watered-down and insufficient. The practical meaning of the parable for us is much wider than potentially helping someone on the side of the road who needs a tire changed. The meaning of the parable is nothing less than a comprehensive mutual solidarity of all people, to go beyond the labels and excuses we use not to help each other.
Since the time of this parable, we have put so many labels on other people as ways to not deal with them. On top of our usual labels, we now block people on social media, we don’t associate with people who have different political views, we stay in our own lanes of comfort and like-mindedness. As a result, we increase the number of those along the side of the road in pain. Our challenge now is to widen our sense of comfort so that includes the comfort of others.
Once upon a time, a teacher asked his students if they knew the exact time that the night has ended and the dawn has begun. One student raised their hand and said, “When you can look across a field and see where your property line is, and where the property of the neighbor’s has begun.” The teacher was not happy with the answer. Another student said, “When you can look out and tell the difference between a horse and a cow.” Again the teacher was not satisfied. Finally, the class grew frustrated and asked the teacher for the answer. He said, “When you look at any person, and in their eyes you see a brother or a sister, then and only then has the night ended and the day has begun.” As believers we are called to be children of the light. As Jesus ended his parable, we can say the same of this little story: “Go and do the same.”