OK. The headline was supposed to get your attention.
It just occurred to me in the wake of the Charlottesville protests this past weekend, that the Parable of the Good Samaritan is worth another look.
Too often this parable is preached as a peace and justice parable. In other words, Jesus is telling us to reach out and help the wounded, the vulnerable and the victims. Sure.
But in fact, the parable is not really about that.
The parable is about racial and religious prejudice. First we have to look at the context. A teacher of the law asked Jesus what he must do. Jesus answers, “Love Your Neighbor.” Being one of those trolls who loves to pick a fight and pick a nit, the teacher of the law says, “Ah, yes, but who is my neighbor?”
Jesus the tells the famous story. But if you didn’t get the irony and Jesus’ really deep rebuke to the snooty lawyer its maybe because you are not aware of who the Samaritan is.
The Samaritans were despised by the proper Jews–the scribes (of whom the teacher of the law was one) the respectable Sadducees and the Puritanical and legalistic Pharisees. The Samaritans were the grubby peasants who were left behind when all the good people were hauled off to Babylon. They claimed Jewish descent, but the Jews looked down on them as heretics and they looked down on the Jews as followers of a new religion. Think of the clash between Irish Catholics and Northern Irish Protestants. Both Christians, but filled with hatred and suspicion of one another.
To make a long story short, the Samaritan was the one person Jesus knew the teacher of the law would be bigoted against. That’s why he made the Samaritan the hero of the story. To rub salt in the wounds remember too, a priest and a Levite–two members of the Jewish religious establishment–(and the lawyer’s buddies) passed by and didn’t help the wounded man. The Samaritan did.
So the message is not so much, “Try to be nice to people who are down on their luck.” Instead the message is, “Love and accept the person you hate the most.”
Since that is the message, the challenge is to love the White Supremacist and for the White Supremacist to love all the other people. You know the old Sunday School song, “Red, and Yellow Black and White, They are children in his sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world.”
Does this mean I am making excuses in some way for Nazis, White Supremacists, KKK members etc. etc.? Of course not. Their ideology is vile and stupid. Does it do any good to react in violence against them? Sorry. That just feeds the fires. Does it mean one goes all soft and overlooks their racist and bigoted ideology?
No. They should be corrected and nobody should be blind about the evil of their viewpoint.
But the Christian way is to be color blind. We see each person for the child of God they are….even the ones we find most abhorrent.
I think, depending who he was talking to today, Jesus would have made the Samaritan a White Supremacist–or a Black Lives Matter activist.
Image-Wikkimedia via Bing