Message from the chaplain: 19 July 2019

“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan while travelling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’ Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” [The lawyer] said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

– Luke 10:30-37 (NRSV)

As we commemorated Mandela Day on Thursday 18 July as a nation and as a school, the story of the good Samaritan is a poignant one.

The audience to whom Christ was speaking would have understood a Samaritan to be “other”, owing to fundamental differences in beliefs between those who were Jewish and those who were Samaritan. Christ’s intentional depiction of the Samaritan in Luke 10 as the example to be followed would therefore have been shocking and counterintuitive to his audience, and it is because of this parable that we have a very different association with the term, “Samaritan”: a term often used today to uphold someone who selflessly helps another, usually a stranger.

We learn from the story of the good Samaritan that we too are to show mercy, for this is what it means to be a neighbour. Let us also remember that although Christ explicitly illustrates to us what it means for us to be a neighbour in our actions, he also implicitly illustrates that we are called to be neighbours even to those we dislike or with whom we fundamentally disagree. Similarly, we are called to open ourselves to God’s grace and love shown through all – even through those who we think dislike us.

Revd Claudia Coustas