This Sunday’s lectionary was the most famous parable, The Good Samaritan. It is so ubiquitous that people from any age, any race, and any religion is likely to have heard of it. As a response to the Pharisee’s question, “Ok, then who is my neighbor?” so that he could know who he was expected to have to love, Jesus tells this story.
30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
What many do not realize is that part of the story is the the Samaritans were persona non grata for the Jews. They practiced a different form of Judaism. And so that the Samaritan was the one who helped and therefor was righteous in the law subverts the expectations of the questioner. The priest and the Levite, considered to be the most righteous, were sinners and false. That must have been a bitter pill to swallow.
And the same time this scripture was read all over the world, our country was embroiled in race and police issues. And so I’m going to consider the story from those perspectives.
We’re going to plug in two scenarios.
1.) The beaten man is a black man, the first person on the road was a white liberal, the second person was a black person, the third person was a white cop