One of the many great moments in scripture is to be found in the wonderful parable of the Good Samaritan. This is a story about a man nearly killed by robbers; left for dead, he is ignored by passing countrymen, only to be rescued by a Samaritan considered a stranger and enemy. The parable, of course, seeks to teach us that our obligation to help is not confined to kinfolk and friend, but to all who may need us, whoever they are. In today’s brief meditation, I want to give our attention to the last sentence which concludes the parable. There, Christ turns to each of us and says “You go, then, and do the same,” (Luke 10:25-37).
In those few words, Christ adds a new dimension and a profound lesson to the parable; he reminds us that the person who puts his belief into practice is the one who pleases God. And the fact is that most of us begin each day with the best of intentions. But we allow ourselves to become easily distracted by the business of life, and we do not see the forest for all the trees. The pressures of work, the demands of family, the desire to watch the football game, all are activities, both noble or trivial, that distract us from becoming good Samaritans.
In the parable, everyone had good reasons for ignoring the wounded man. Perhaps the priest was needed at the temple for a religious service, and the Levite feared that the robbers might still be lying in wait to attack anyone who stopped to help. Like most of us, they too, had good reasons which conspired to persuade them to ignore their most profound duty.
But there finally comes a time when even the best of intentions are not nearly enough. At that point, we are called to express our faith not through good thoughts and mumbled platitudes, but through actions and example. We need to remember not only the words of Jesus Christ, but the admonition of the Apostle James who wrote to God’s people “Do not deceive yourselves by just listening to God’s word; instead take care that you put it into practice.” (James 1:22)