It is a familiar story, a favorite of many; you’ll find it in the tenth chapter of the gospel of Luke.
It begins: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers…”
Yes, it is the parable known as the Good Samaritan. The man who was robbed is left half dead. A priest and then a Levite, a temple worker, both passed by the man without offering assistance of any kind. We then learn of a Samaritan who saw the victim and had compassion. He bandages his wounds and brings him to an inn to care for him. When he needs to leave he asks the innkeeper to take care of him and he provides the cash for any of the costs that would be incurred.
It is a parable and so at the end Jesus, who tells the story asks: “Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” The response is obvious, “The one who showed him mercy.” We read the story and agree that we should love our neighbor as ourselves. We even go as far as knowing that we should do for “the least of these.” But I wonder why we are not asking what we need to do to make the roads from Jerusalem to Jericho safer?
Each morning the news reports the number of shootings from the night before. Today is the 132nd day of the year and not one day thus far in 2020 have we gone without a homicide in Philadelphia. What is it that makes violence an every day, almost normal occurrence?
I do not presume to have the answers but I do wonder about the environment that many grow up in. There is the crowding, the noise, the limited resources which in turn leads to increased poverty. When you can’t pay the bills stress increases for the family. There have been studies done on “resource deprivation” so try to see it as a real hindrance to a peaceful life. Children grow up with physical decay all around which surely affects mood and the ability to be hopeful. Add into the mix the substance abuse all around with no place for a child to escape or to reflect, or to feel safe and you have a recipe for disaster.
Until we address these issues and stop blaming the victims things will not improve. We can begin to be “Good Samaritans” by voting out those who turn a blind eye to the problems in our cities. We need to demand equal educational resources and opportunities for those who live in poverty. We need to hold our elected officials accountable and we need to find ways to support these least of these. Lord, have mercy and show us the way.
Let us pray:
Almighty and gracious God, look upon your children in their suffering and mercifully provide for their needs. Keep them from discouragement and bitterness. Be a refuge to them and to all who live in poverty and with neglect that they may be delivered and preserved according to your promises in Jesus, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen
[from Pastoral Care Companion, Concordia Publishing House]
Holding you all in prayer and missing you more each day.
The Rev. Ellen Meissgeier