Every time I read the story of the Good Samaritan I am struck by the phrase, “passed by…”.
A man is stripped, beaten and left for dead by the side of the road. This is a violent act. I don’t know that it was a daily occurrence in Judea at the time of Jesus, but my guess is that Jesus used contemporary examples and “newsworthy” events in his stories, just like preachers do today. These kinds of acts are certainly regular occurrences in our contemporary world. I shouldn’t be, but am, continually astonished at the violence in our communities. The second page of the StarTribune B section usually has a catalog of crimes committed and people on trial for those crimes. Sometimes I grieve, sometimes I pray, sometimes I cry, almost all times I ask the question, “what can I do about this violence, and how can I help the victims?”
Too often my questions go unanswered and I end up “passing on by” … until the next killing, robbery, rape makes the news.
It especially hurts that Jesus chose the religious professionals, the priest and the Levite, who were most likely on their way to lead temple worship for the next two weeks and could never get their hands dirty with helping a potentially dead person…it would disqualify them from participating in worship. Those religious professionals…more concerned with doing their job than doing the will of God, caring for the sick and broken and hurting of the world. Even when normal compassion would seem to overrule any other concerns.
Wouldn’t you stop?
Wouldn’t you stop the parent from demeaning the child at the grocery store?
Wouldn’t you stop and give the “work for food” guy some dignity and help him find a job?
Wouldn’t you stop the bullying of the weak and vulnerable students at your school?
Wouldn’t you stop and find a way for teenagers to live in a home, rather than in their cars?
Wouldn’t you stop the liars from proclaiming untruths about the very things that we know keep people in bondage?
Wouldn’t you stop the drive by shootings of children?
Wouldn’t you stop…
Wouldn’t you stop…
I wonder if so many of us (millions of Christians in the United States) would stop rather than pass on by, why does all this continue to happen…and get worse?
And what do the most favorite of Jesus’ “Lenten” words really mean…”take up your cross daily and follow me”?