The Extravagant Samaritan

“But a Samaritan, as he travelled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn, and took care of him.” — LUKE 10:33-34

When I think of the parable of the Good Samaritan, the first word that comes to mind is “extravagance.” The Good Samaritan gave extravagantly—much more than just giving the man some loose change; loose change was not his need at that moment. He desperately needed community, somebody to treat him justly, as a person created and loved by God.

And then there’s the priest and the Levite. Like them, we are busy with our religious lives, determined to reach our established goals, worried about the bottom line. We can become easily upset if we are inconvenienced, be it a traffic jam or a drunken man asking us for loose change.

One charity had a rather touching commercial on TV recently. After displaying the plight of various groups, they pleaded with the viewer to “Join in the struggle for justice” just by sending in a donation. It seems to me that the priest and the Levite would have been quite self-righteous about sending in their donations.

I see this as a pretty serious problem within the Church. We can ease our conscience by giving a donation, but then we walk right past the homeless woman on the street without even a thought of concern or compassion. We justify ourselves by our so-called “sacrificial donation.” Having done that, we are then free (or so we think) to do whatever we want in terms of self-centred pursuits. But pity the poor guy who might interrupt us in that pursuit. The Good Samaritan gave extravagantly. How do you give?

REFLECTION:

1. How can we “join in the struggle for justice”? How can we do so without feeling self-righteous?

2. If you were to become a neighbour “to the one who had fallen into the hands robbers” (LUKE 10: 36) what would that look like? What are some first steps you could take as a family or as a church?          (DOUG WIEBE)

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