Jamaica's need: More Samaritans, not more mere Christians


Jamaica's need: More Samaritans, not more mere Christians


Tuesday, December 03, 2019

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The late world-renowned New Testament textual critic Bruce Metzger, in one of his early books, did an interesting analysis of the biblical Samaritan parable. Metzger focused on the main actors apart from the hapless victim and suggested the mottos suggested from their behaviour with reference to the victim. I am 'eeksing' up my little self by adding to his mottos the summary emotion of each motto.

The main actors are the robbers, the religious folk (priest, Levite = modern clergy) and the unlikely hero, the Samaritan. A parable is a simile expanded in story form.

To make it easier to grasp I'll use a table. Recall the account (Luke 10:25-37): A man was going from Jerusalem (the worship centre) to Jericho and along that dangerous Jericho road he fell among thieves who robbed him, beat him, and left him 'half dead' or seriously wounded. Later the religious folk came along and went over where he lay, looked at him, then went on the other side of the road and on their merry way.

Finally, the Samaritan came by, examined the victim, poured oil and wine on his wounds, put him on his own beast, took him to a 'motel' for further help, made a down-payment for his care and promised to cover any excess beyond that amount on his next visit. See table.

It is helpful to note that caves (hiding places for robbers) were along the Jericho road so travellers along the road are usually armed. The presumed journey of the account for all is from the worship centre (Jerusalem) toward Jericho.

Christians, under conviction possibly, usually offer a defence for the behaviour of the religious actors by saying that by Levitical law (Leviticus 21:1-11) they cannot defile themselves by touching a dead body, even that of a close relative. Not a bad try, except that you can't tell if a person is dead or just seriously wounded unless you care enough to get close and check.

Another tactic is to excuse the religious folk by pointing out the danger of the road and the live risk of being attacked as well if one stopped to help. Other prior commitment is yet another tactic offered. The Samaritan faced all of that too but helped.

Our beloved country needs people who are prepared in principle and practice to run necessary risks to provide needed help to whomever we encounter. Mere Christians are not likely to be open to this. The Samaritan, despised by Jews in that era, was so prepared. It is worthy of note, too, that after revealing the apathy of the clergy Jews our Lord did not mention a 'lay' Jew as hero but opted for a despised Samaritan!

Brutal Jamaican reality: The motto and emotion of robbers have not changed though their appearance may be disguised today; politicians, parsons/religious folk, police, businesses, et al/etc, who 'do us in' still operate on a species of the motto/emotion of robbers.

Brutal Jamaican reality: Far too many professing Christians love and care in word only, not in deed.

I say then, may the tribe of that Samaritan in Luke increase and repopulate Jamaica until we achieve the desired goal of a kinder, gentler, more neighbourly nation. Love is more a verb than a noun or bears witness to itself more in action than in words.

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