Monday, October 8, 2012

What is a Good Samaritan?

The Gospel reading today is Luke 10: 25-37. It is the story of the Good Samaritan, which happens to be one of my favorite biblical stories for a few reasons.
Everyone knows that part of the message of this parable is to be kind to others, and to treat your neighbor with love and compassion. I think it is important to remember to do this in every way possible. While sometimes you might have the chance to perform large deeds to help others, the majority of opportunities are going to be little acts of kindness, such as smiling at a stranger, sending flowers to a sick friend, or holding the door open for the person behind you. All of these things, and many others, may seem small at first, but when they pile up over time they start to have quite the impact. There is a quote that I like that really stresses how much difference little acts like this could make: "Every time you put something positive into the universe, the world changes. Your kindness invites miracles to show up; not just in your world, but in the whole world." -Unknown 
Jesus is also telling us that love and kindness do not discriminate. Samaritans, such as the traveler who helped the injured man, were looked down upon by Jewish priests and elders and were regarded as unclean foreigners. The Samaritan traveler could have easily walked past the injured man, thinking to himself that he shouldn’t help a stranger because of how poorly he had been treated by others. And yet, he stopped and took care of the man. This is what God is calling us to do; to love one another and to look past differences, because on the inside we are all children of God.
While I definitely think that my above interpretations are lessons of the parable, I believe it also goes a little bit deeper. If you recall, the first two people to walk by the injured man crossed to the other side of the road and ignored him, and they were both people with holy titles. The third person, a disliked Samaritan, was the one who stopped to help. I believe that through this interesting choice of characters, God is trying to teach us to stand up for what is right. Even when the people in charge may not be doing the right thing, we have to. He is calling us to question societal norms; to be people of integrity; to keep His message in mind when going about our daily lives. The world is full of selfish motives and unkind actions, yet He is challenging us to be loving and giving of ourselves.
I encourage everyone to think of little acts of kindness you can do this week. Maybe it’s calling a family member you haven’t talked to in a while, or maybe you can help out at a service event this weekend. Remember that even the smallest act can make a huge difference. How will you be a good Samaritan to others, and be a person of integrity and love?
God bless,

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