Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Who Are The Worlds' Good Samaritans?

"No one would remember the Good Samaritan if he'd only had good intentions.  He had money as well."

Baroness Margaret Thatcher
British Prime Minister 1979-1990

A Soviet journalist nicknamed Margaret Thatcher "The Iron Lady" because of her uncompromising style of politics and leadership.  She derided those who always sought compromise, saying such represented the "absence of leadership."

She had a way of verbally cutting through the clutter and getting right to the nut.

And her comment is an interesting play on the oft-used word Good Samaritan.

Few understand why Jesus would use the Samaritans in that parable.

Jesus taught in parables for two reasons:

1.  To avoid being arrested.  He was followed by the "ruling class," scribes and Pharisees, hoping to catch him doing something illegal.  He was upsetting their apple cart of literal control and religious governance over the Jews, and they were looking to brand him with illegal activity.  His eventual arrest and conviction was for sedition, or rabble rousing, and was because of something he said.  Parables were "innocent" stories for which he could not be arrested.

2.  Parables are a way to offer a deep, many-layered, spiritual message.  Regarding them, He literally said that people would hear what they hear, and to each his own.  A parable is just that - a story which illustrates a spiritual teaching.  The more one delves into His parables, the more one can discover, and apply.

Why would He use the Samaritan traveler in this parable?  One reason is because as a people they were reviled by the Jews, and by Jesus's time centuries of historical hatred.  Another - they were considered to be uneducated and of a lower class, mongrels and mutts, and unworthy.

But what of Miss Thatcher's thinking?  She notices that in the parable the Good Samaritan had money!  And he did.

A Jewish man is beaten, robbed and left for dead in the road.  He is approached first, and not helped, by a priest (who, with special Godly status ministered daily in the temple, ostensibly a "good" man).  Then a Levite, the tribe set apart by God for special religious service (they are the only tribe who could touch the Ark of the Covenant for example), passes by next, sees the bleeding man and, instead of helping hastens his pace.

True to the way Jesus taught, with unexpected juxtaposition and hyperbole, an ignorant, half-breed Samaritan comes along.  The beaten man is his sworn enemy!  He takes pity, cleans and binds the wounds, and drops the pitiful man off at a place where he can recover.  He paid in advance for some recovery time but promised to pass by again and if more money was owed for the recovering man's care he would then provide it.

There's a lot going on there!

But without getting into all the spiritual teaching, notice the Samaritan was traveling with provisions and had money.  He was not only in a position to help, which was not a position given him by status and standing, he did help - with care and with money.

Maybe the most pressing and impressive part of the story is his promise to return to pay future monies that he does not then owe.  He not only has the good intentions and good heart, he puts his money where his heart is.


I am never impressed when people do for others, but want it to be known, or they have it displayed so they get the notice.  The Good Samaritan got nothing in return for his goodness.  This was an anonymous act of love and compassion.  But he did have the financial ability to do more, going the extra mile, as it were.

People now seem to want to deride those with the financial ability to do more.  Go ahead. 


So, which countries in the world are immediately there offering help when natural disasters happen?  It's the happy socialists right?  There they are, all eager to give of their time, talents, energy, treasure and provision to dress others' wounds and help them recover, right?  There they are, first in line, expecting nothing in return, right?  And they should be first to help, enjoying those high standards of living, right?

Or is it the free enterprise countries, the mixed-breed mongrels and mutts, derided by the rest of the happy socialists as unfit and unworthy, except when they want our free enterprise time, talents, energy, treasure and provision, right?  Who's first in line to say, "gimme some of that..."?

Keep in mind where the economic growth is, where wealth has always been generated, and the ability to help has always been in the heart.  THAT is the system WE want to be.

Well, it used to be WE had the money ... hopefully WE still have the good intentions.

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