A Modern Parable

Now  an expert in religious law stood up to test Joshua, saying, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?  He said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you understand it?” The expert answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.”  Joshua said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

But the expert,wanting to justify himself, said to Joshua, “And who is my neighbor?”

There was a man who lived in the seediest part of town. He was a drug addict and a thief who supported his habit by stealing. One day he was down on Hastings Street late at night. A gang of punks surrounded him and beat him. They took what little money he had and left him bleeding in the alleyway.

A pastor on his way to church that Sunday morning saw the man in the alleyway and debated whether to help him or not. He reasoned that if he stopped to help the man he would be late for church and miss giving his sermon which he had spent all week preparing. His congregation would be upset with him and he would lose face for being so irresponsibly late. He thought the needs of his church members were greater than that of this poor drug addict. And anyway, it was no doubt the addict’s own fault for hanging around such a bad neighborhood late at night. So he hurried on his way remembering to say a prayer for this poor, lost sinner.

A police car drove by a little later with two officers in it who saw the man lying in the alley. They were on their way to a weekly meeting with their fellow officers and scoffed at the man, commenting he was probably drunk and would soon wake with a big hangover. And so they went on their way.

A short time later, a Muslim man on his way to open his business chanced to walk by the alleyway. He worked Sundays because he really didn’t care much for religious days and preferred to make some extra cash to help support his family.

He saw the man laying there and heard him groaning in pain. He stopped and looked a bit closer and saw the blood. His first thought was to call an ambulance but he knew that in this part of town, they would just call the paddy wagon and throw him in jail for the day.

He saw the man was hurt quite badly and had lost quite a lot of blood judging by the dark puddle oozing out from under his shirt.

The Muslim man called his wife on his cell phone and told her what happened. She was shocked and immediately suggested she come by in the family car and see what she could do because she was a trained nurse back in Pakistan, the country of their origin.

She was watching the kids that morning so she grabbed their two little boys and jumped in their car and drove over. She took her first aid kit with her and when she arrived she opened up her kit and cleaned and dressed the young man’s wounds.

His wounds were not fatal she concluded but he was very weak and dehydrated from loss of blood. She told her husband they should take him home with them and feed him and let him rest for a day or two until he was stronger. If they left him here he might catch pneumonia from lying on the cold ground.

So she and her husband with the help of their two boys, who held the car door open, laid the young man in the back seat.

They took him home with them and fed him and let him sleep in the boys’ room while they all slept in the parent’s room. The man recovered and was extremely grateful they had helped him. He had never met such kindness from strangers before.

This act of kindness warmed his heart and renewed his faith in others and in himself. He resolved after this incident to get off drugs and straighten out his life which he eventually did.

Which of these three do you think became a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” The expert in religious law said, “The one who showed mercy to him.” So Joshua said to him, “Go and do the same.”

If we refer back to the parable of the Good Samaritan we notice something:

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Joshua. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

The parable was the answer to the scribe’s question of how to find salvation and Joshua’s final words at the end of the parable were go and do the same.

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