Today, WeGo Health asked that each Health Activist Writer post about the “Good Samaritan” and “random acts of kindness.” We’ve all heard stories in the news of ordinary people acting heroically in difficult or dangerous circumstances to help a stranger in need. We have each benefitted from the kindness of a stranger at some point, and I’m willing to bet that each of you has extended a helping hand to another, someone stuck in the middle of life’s harsh realities.
Instead of writing about my personal experiences being both the giver and/or on the receiving end of a good deed, I thought I would share the story of “The Good Samaritan.” We use this phrase colloquially today to describe someone who does a good deed.
The Merriam-Webster definition of “Good Samaritan” is:
“a person who helps other people and especially strangers when they have trouble.”
While this definition is factual; it doesn’t tell the whole story. We’ve dulled the original meaning of the phrase, which actually comes from Luke, Chapter 10.
The Original Good Samaritan was not motivated by the notion of a simple “random act of kindness.” He was motivated by love of his neighbor, in the way that Jesus teaches us to “love our neighbors as ourselves.” In honor of Easter and the original Good Samaritan, I am posting the full parable.
In the parable, Jesus contrasts mere “religion” against the actions of a true love for one’s neighbor by highlighting the failure of a priest and of a religious Levite to stop and render aid to a man. Also, as you read, keep in mind that in Biblical times, a Samaritan was a racial minority despised in Israel. The Good Samaritan could have been punished for stopping to help.
Stopping to render aid to the sick and suffering, even despite possible negative repercussions, is an important responsibility for a health care activist, and this story is a great reminder of that.
25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him.
35 The next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
What would you do? After all, you didn’t cause the harm. Or does that even matter? Suffering is suffering no matter what, right? Do you like to think of yourself as someone who would stop to help or ARE YOU SOMEONE who would definitely “get involved” and render aid?