I really like the name of our organization. In a day and age of racism and xenophobia and a thousand other social ills, it is nice to focus on one of the bravest and most inspirational stories ever written. Our goal is to define ourselves by aligning and identifying with this epic tale, so here it is… in case you weren’t aware of why claim this name or if you’ve simply forgotten just how truly transformational this story is.
The legend of the Good Samaritan tells of a man traveling from one city to another, and while on the way he is robbed of everything he had, including his clothing, and is beaten to within an inch of his life. The road was treacherously winding and was a favorite hideout of robbers and thieves. A religious leader soon happens upon the injured man shows no love or compassion. He intentionally refuses to help the man by passing on the other side of the road so as not to get involved. If there was anyone who would have had a moral obligation to help the man, it would have been this guy. By nature of his position, he was to be a person of compassion, desiring to help others. Unfortunately, “love” was not a word for him that required action on the behalf of someone else.
The next person to pass by was a man who understood the laws of the city, country, and culture. Intellectually, he was brilliant and comprehended all the scenarios involved with the situation. But he does exactly what the religious leader did: he passes by without showing any compassion. Again, he would have known the law, but he also failed to show the injured man compassion.
The next person to come by is the Samaritan, the one least likely to have shown compassion for the man. Samaritans were considered low class by the town the injured man was from. There were numerous political and religious and cultural differences that the two societies fought over and it was not uncommon for people from each respective town to hate the other. Samaritans were actually looked down upon by people from the other town.
The amazing thing is none of this made any difference to the Samaritan; he did not consider the man’s race or religion. The “Good Samaritan” saw only a person in dire need of assistance, and assist him he did, above and beyond the minimum required. He dresses the man’s wounds with wine (to disinfect) and oil (to sooth the pain). He puts the man on his animal and takes him to an inn for a time of healing and pays the innkeeper with his own money. He then goes beyond common decency and tells the innkeeper to take good care of the man, and he would pay for any extra expenses on his return trip. The Samaritan saw his neighbor as anyone who was in need.
This story is thousands of years old but it asks some pointed questions that can help us examine our own thoughts about people who are different from us. About people we disagree with. About people we judge. About people we don’t even like.
We should care for and respect others regardless of their race or religion or whether they are homeless or have 3 summer homes on the lake; the criterion is need. If they need and we have the supply, then we are to give generously and freely, without expectation of return. The lessons of the Good Samaritan are vital to anyone who claims to care about the homeless, or people in general. We should set aside our prejudice and show love and compassion for anyone we encounter.
This is what Samaritan House means to us.