Living Lessons 7

Parable of the Good Samaritan

But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”  Luke 10:29 ESV

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, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. [Luke 10:30-33, ESV]

This is a timeless story. Whether it was at a vespers listening to your youth pastor or during Sabbath school being displayed with the felt Bible characters that barely stuck to the board, the story of the Good Samaritan has been relayed to you. It’s a beautiful story, the common goal of it being shared is to teach us the value of helping others, not just in what is convenient but by going above and beyond. The narrative tells us that the Samaritan does not only give care to the man personally, but he also sets up a deal for the man to continue to receive care until he returns to full health. Being a neighbor, as Jesus concludes in the telling of this story, is not just about being helpful, but about restoration to those who are suffering.

There is something in this story that struck me this time while reading over this countlessly retold parable. The first thing is this: hurry is a destroyer of compassion. We look at the characters of the priest and the Levite and far too often we paint the picture that they were too pious and felt too proud to help a person who was half beaten to death. We commonly conclude that the position and background of these two characters prevented them from showing compassion. The issue with this take is that it removes us and distances us from putting ourselves in the shoes of the priest and the Levite.
We can only connect with this story and let this parable change our hearts when we see the two people who “…passed by on the other side.”, as who they truly were – busy humans just like us. When I look at them like that, I cannot help but reflect on the moments when I am going to Target, and all I can think of as I walk from my car to the entrance is all the deadlines and responsibilities I must handle. While my mind is on my tasks, I don’t even have the capacity to see the human outside the entrance who is asking for assistance of any sort. I wish it stopped at strangers. There are far too many times where instead of seeing the suffering of people I care about and making space to have compassion for them like the Samaritan, I end up focused on the daily hustle of trying to do things to be someone significant, to be someone who matters while neglecting the people who matter. Hurry is a destroyer of compassion.

We live in a society that forces us to be human doings rather than human beings, and makes us bad neighbors, people who neglect suffering, people who prioritize lone success. But I am thankful that Jesus shows us through the gospels the beauty of pace. It is pace that allowed Jesus to notice a woman who others had rejected while on the way to be with Jairus’ daughter. It was pace that allowed Jesus to hear the cries of blind men and see the weight a woman by the well was carrying in her life. It is hard to think beyond ourselves when we are always in a hurry; my prayer is that we all find time to pace, to breathe, so we can be good to ourselves and be good neighbors to all.

By Ben Amoah

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