My Least Favorite Parable

A Sunday school teacher was telling her class the story of the Good Samaritan, in which a man was beaten, robbed and left for dead. She described the situation in vivid detail so her students would catch the drama.

Then she asked the class, "If you saw a person lying on the roadside all wounded and bleeding, what would you do?"

A thoughtful little girl broke the hushed silence. "I think I'd throw up!"

I have to confess that the parable of the Good Samaritan is one of my least favorite parables. You may be thinking: "It's a beautiful story that teaches a strong lesson. What's there not to like?" But therein lies the problem. It teaches a very strong lesson and one that I can't escape. There's no way to explain this parable away, no way to come up with any fanciful interpretations that soothe my conscience.

Every time I read this parable, I realize my shortcomings in the area of meeting the needs of those around me. And the fact that I can relate so well to the priest and the Levite in the story leaves me squirming in my seat. Perhaps you understand what I mean. Allow the words of Jesus to pierce your heart once again:

"But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, 'And who is my neighbor?' Then Jesus answered and said: 'A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, "Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you." So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?' And he said, 'He who showed mercy on him.' Then Jesus said to him, 'Go and do likewise.'" (Luke 10:29-37)

"Father, in a world where I am surrounded by pain and suffering, it is so easy to turn my head and shut my eyes. Please forgive me of the times when I have done just that. Lord, open my eyes and my heart to those in need. In Jesus' name, amen."

Alan Smith Innisfil, ON, Canada

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