This Sunday’s gospel reading comes from Luke, chapter 10, verses 23-37. It’s a very well known story, commonly referred to as the parable of the “Good Samaritan.” It contains a powerful, difficult message to help your neighbor, whoever that person may be. Even if you don’t know them. Even if you don’t like them.
Jesus was a storyteller. He could have just said, “Try to be nice to everyone,” but that’s not exactly what came out. Instead he offered a powerful example of how to be nice, what extent you ought to go to, and who frequently falls short. It’s actually an uncomfortable, divisive message. Remember, Jesus was a revolutionary. He wasn’t put to death for telling people to be nice. But somehow I feel that we lost the real power of his message over the millennia.
So on this weekend, when our president is trying to deport as many undocumented immigrants as possible, I thought it might be a good idea to revisit Luke’s gospel with a more contemporary interpretation.
The Contemporary Samaritan
“There was once an entrepreneur and veteran who ran a small coffee shop in an up-and-coming neighborhood. Everyone agreed it was a sound business investment and would really help increase property values while providing jobs for local residents. One night, after working twenty-three hours straight, he momentarily let his guard down while taking out the trash. Robbers jumped him and forced him to empty the safe at gunpoint. They beat him up so he couldn’t call for help and left him for dead on the sidewalk.
It so happened that a politician was on his way from a fundraising event in a motorcade with several members of the press. They passed the man lying on the street and one of the reporters asked what the country should do about it. The politician said this was exactly why he promoted a tough-on-crime domestic policy, which he would enact right after the next election. He offered his thoughts and prayers to everyone suffering from the lawlessness that had been enabled by the lax policies of his political rivals. Even though there were six dozen people in the motorcade, no one from the press or the politician’s personal staff stopped to see if the man was okay.
A short while later, a red-blooded, God-fearing American came down the street. He had voted for Hillary in the last election. He didn’t really like the Clintons, but he really didn’t like Trump. He didn’t think his vote mattered anyway. That’s why he didn’t vote in the midterms and never bothered to research who was running for county commissioner or D.A. He saw the man on the sidewalk and briefly thought about giving him some money. He looked like he was in bad shape. But the man would probably just use it on drugs, and his cousin (who had a thing for painkillers) already owed him seven hundred bucks. Hadn’t he given enough to people who couldn’t get their shit together? Besides, he wrote a check to the food bank for $100 every year at tax time.
Shortly after passing the badly beaten entrepreneur, the man thought he should probably call the cops, but then it occurred to him that the cops might want him to stay, and he’d had a long day and really needed a beer. So he kept walking.
At last, a Mexican who had overstayed his work visa came upon the man. The Mexican felt bad because he used to be in a gang, and had bloodied a few people up over the years. He was trying to make up for it, so he decided to stop and help. He gave the man first aid and took him to a hospital. At the hospital, he left his contact information in case man or the police needed to get ahold of him, even though the Mexican realized that if they really wanted, the police would be able to track him down and deport him. After that, the Mexican, even though he had a degree in civil engineering and had spent the last ten hours driving for Uber, went to work his second job as a dishwasher.
And Jesus concluded, ‘I really tried to spell this out for you.'”