Monday, September 09, 2013

Of Syrians and Samaritans

Sometimes I wonder why Jesus left out certain things. Are there any stories where Jesus did not heal or help someone? Surely there must have been some left untouched? If we heard those stories it would help us understand those who are not healed today. Or can we learn something just from the fact that we are not told?

And what about the story of the Good Samaritan? We have the heroes and antiheroes of the drama arriving on the scene after the terrible deed was done. And so we know that we should be compassionate and care for those who have suffered.
But what if the Samaritan and co had come upon the assault while it was taking place? What then would Jesus have expected?

Because then we would have a word on the Syrian situation, which we all know is not cut and dried. Is the Christian response to intervene and (hopefully) limit future suffering? Or is the Christian response to act peacefully, ourselves, at all costs.

Actually, I don't think that the parable of the Good Samaritan is about showing compassion and it is probably a statement about our society that we think it is. Compassion would have been expected even without Jesus saying so. The point is that the display of compassion (or non-display) turned around the perceived status of those involved. And so those who were honoured for their position in society were not honoured in this context and similarly the reverse.


Steven Jones said...

Hi Jenny

Your posts are thought-provoking, as always!

With regard to the questions you pose, perhaps another way at looking at the parable of the Good Samaritan is not so much as a call to perform acts of mercy (since Jesus was addressing a Jewish religious leader who had acknowledged that the prerequisites for eternal life were to "love God, love neighbour", rendering acts of mercy as a given), but more as a call to recognising who one's neighbour is.

In the case of the parable, the Jewish religious leader had to conclude that the "despised Samaritan" (Jesus' words) was, in fact, his neighbour. And at the risk of sounding simplistic, isn't a failure to recognise others - even those we despise - as our neighbour, ultimately the root of all human conflict?

Enjoy your day - keep putting the tough questions out there.


Steve Hayes said...

Another way of looking at it is to see it as dealing with legalism. The lawyer's question, the legalist's question, is "Who is my neighbour?" thus seeing to limit the range of of people I need to be nice to. Jesus never answers it, but rather turns it around and shows that it is the wrong question.

The right question is not "Who is my neighbour?" but rather "Who can I be a neighbour to?"

Jenny Hillebrand said...

Jesus was clever in the stories he told. There is so much to see when you look. Thanks for the comments.