by Rev. Robert H. Tucker
June 16, 1997
The Good Samaritan Revisited
I expressed my appreciation to the speaker for his challenging
sermon and then added, "But, I don't believe the Parable
of the Good Samaritan says what you made it out to say."
Instantaneously, his warm smile faded into incredulity, followed
by a dismissal only heretics on their way to the fire could have
appreciated. Another person to whom I expressed my insight replied,
"You're being so picky." With such encouragement, I
The message of the Parable of the Good Samaritan that I and
others have continously preached is that we are to help our neighbor--our
neighbor being anyone in need.
That's the answer the interrogating lawyer wanted, "And
who is my neighbor?" But, Jesus shifted the discussion by
asking, "Who proved to be the neighbor to the one on the
side of the road?" Jesus made the neighbor a subject, not
an object; he turned from examining neighbor as the object of
our charity to having us look in a mirror to ask ourselves: am
I a neighbor?
As long as neighbor remains an object, we can make distinctions
between the 'worthy' and 'unworthy' recipients of our charity.
As long as 'neighbor' is an object, we can decide whether or not
to help another person. Such distinctions are no longer possible,
Once a wrong idea gets ingrained it becomes almost impervious
to change. And it is not just religion in which such obstinacy
is found. Niels Bohr, the great twentieth-century physicist, once
said that to get a revolutionary scientific idea accepted one
generation must first die off.
Jesus' question, "Who proved to be the neighbor to the
person by the side of the road?" is directed at each of us.
Picky? Perhaps. But with the self-examination the Parable requires,
its popularity is much less certain.
--Robert H. Tucker
9 June 1997
- © Robert H. Tucker, 1997.
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