The definition for a neighbor from the English Oxford Living Dictionaries is
A person living next door to or very near to the speaker or person referred to.
A person or place in relation to others next or near to it.
Any person in need of one’s help or kindness (after biblical use).
Let’s focus on definition three—biblical use:
In the parable of The Good Samaritan I believe a valuable lesson has been lost on a number of people who profess to be followers of the Nazarene Teacher of two millennia ago. A parable is “A simple story used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson” Ibid.
In other words it is a story to convey an important point about life on this planet traversing the cosmos. This method of teaching is effective because it is enrobed in a story; almost everyone loves to hear a good story.
We don’t know for sure if the Good Samaritan story was based on an actual incident. However, given those times of traveling alone on a road, especially one like the Jericho Road, where bandits lay in wait, it may have been an actual event.
Who knows if the priest or Levite of the story was present in the audience? They ignored the helpless man lying on the road—why?
Perhaps, they were afraid of being accosted by the bandits or they were on their way to a very important engagement and did not want to be late, or they simply did not care to help a fellow human being in need. Whatever their reason, it did not alleviate the wounded man’s sufferings.
Perhaps, the thieves were in the gathering as well, sizing up the people, especially the ones of measurable means, as they plotted their next misadventure. On the other hand, they may have been affected by the story of their misdeeds and made a course change for the betterment of themselves and society.
The injured man or a family member could have been present. It would be unlikely the Good Sanitarian would be in a Jewish crowd since the enmity between the Jews and the Samaritans were like the quarrelsome Hatfields and McCoys’ feud.
The history between them was something that could not be forgotten or forgiven. Time just added salt from the Dead Sea to the festering wounds between the Jews and Samaritans.
The Good Samaritan did not care to what creed the wounded man ascribed. He saw a person in need and did what he could to help him without regard to his own inconvenience or personal safety, especially if the bandits were still lurking along the road.
The parable listed below is based on the Lexham English Bible (LEB).
Today, when I heard the following,
“Before I can help you, I need to know to what church you belong.”
If someone is in need, it makes no difference to what religious community they may or may not belong. Helping someone in need should not be dependent on religious affiliation.
On the other hand, one in need should not be coerced (by whatever tactics) by the helper to join their particular brand of religion. Genuine compassion to a fellow human being should be free of any stratagem, no matter what the motivation may be.
The recent intervention by Göteborgs University student Elin Ersson on a Turkish Airlines flight from Sweden to Istanbul where a man from Afghanistan was being deported from Sweden back to Afghanistan, was an act of civil disobedience and compassion for a fellow human soul. Millions have seen her emotional appeal on social media and other outlets.
She did not know the man being deported. She thought it was another man she had been informed about by his family members, but he was on a different flight.
Reactions to her “stand” have been typical.
Teenager Ben Simanowitz from London wrote
“Elin Ersson’s actions are inspiring. Through them more people will hopefully be driven to become more actively engaged in issues rather than watching from the sidelines. Indeed, I would like to think Elin’s actions have given me more confidence to speak out and take action against injustice around me.” http://www.euronews.com/2018/07/27/elin-ersson-and-the-new-breed-of-post-millennial-activists-view
Professor Andreas Heinemann-Grüder at the University of Bonn stated
“I think Ms. Ersson displayed too much emotion, and had too few arguments. I think she was mainly addressing the online community, and at the same time, she wanted to raise the profile of her activist organization…
“I think it’s highly likely that Elin Ersson won’t reach her goals. She can too easily be discredited because of her lack of professionalism. The whole protest could be dismissed as the actions of a do-gooder. She may end up doing more harm to her cause than good.” https://www.dw.com/en/deportation-protester-elin-ersson-too-much-emotion-too-few-arguments/a-44841640
Too many others just ignored the whole show and did not give it a read or a view or a passing thought. Ms. Ersson was ignored by the vast majority.
Like the Good Sanitarian Ms. Ersson took a chance to help a person in need. He was a fellow neighbor on this small orb in the dust spirals of the Milky Way.
As Carl Sagan said, from a distance our world is a pale blue dot. As one gets closer, the oval world of oceans and seas, clouds and land masses depict a gorgeous world hanging in the majesty of space.
It only changes reality when one visits the surface where humans for generations have forgotten the one simple lesson of the cosmic book of life. We all are interconnected and came from the same parental origins.
Who is my neighbor in 2018? Perhaps, the question should be the one asked by Fred Rogers on his PBS show, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”
G. D. Williams © 2018
The Parable of the Good Samaritan
Luke 10:25-37 Lexham English Bible (LEB)
25 And behold, a certain legal expert stood up to test him, saying, “Teacher, what must I do so that I will inherit eternal life?” 26 And he said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read it?”[a] 27 And he answered and[b] said, “You shall love the Lord your God from all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind,[c] and your neighbor as yourself.”[d] 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly. Do this and you will live.”
29 But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 And[e] Jesus replied and[f] said, “A certain man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who both stripped him and beat him.[g] After[h] inflicting blows on him,[i] they went away, leaving him[j] half dead. 31 Now by coincidence a certain priest was going down on that road, and when he[k] saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. 32 And in the same way also a Levite, when he[l] came down to the place[m] and saw him,[n] passed by on the opposite side. 33 But a certain Samaritan who was traveling came up to him and, when he[o] saw him,[p] had compassion. 34 And he came up and[q] bandaged his wounds, pouring on olive oil and wine, and he put him on his own animal and[r] brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And on the next day, he took out two denarii and[s] gave them[t][u] to the innkeeper, and said, “Take care of him, and whatever you spend in addition, I will repay to you when I return. 36 Which of these three do you suppose became a neighbor of the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 So he said, “The one who showed mercy to him.” And Jesus said to him, “You go and do likewise.”
Luke 10:26 *Here the direct object is supplied from context in the English translation
Luke 10:27 Here “and” is supplied because the previous participle (“answered”) has been translated as a finite verb
Luke 10:27 A quotation from Deut 6:5
Luke 10:27 A quotation from Lev 19:18
Luke 10:30 Some manuscripts omit “and”
Luke 10:30 Here “and” is supplied because the previous participle (“replied”) has been translated as a finite verb
Luke 10:30 *Here the direct object is supplied from context in the English translation
Luke 10:30 Here “after” is supplied as a component of the participle (“inflicting blows on”) which is understood as temporal
Luke 10:30 *Here the direct object is supplied from context in the English translation
Luke 10:30 Here the direct object is supplied from context in the English translation
Luke 10:31 Here “when” is supplied as a component of the participle (“saw”) which is understood as temporal
Luke 10:32 Here “when” is supplied as a component of the participle (“came”) which is understood as temporal
Luke 10:32 Some manuscripts have “who happened by the place, when he came up to him”
Luke 10:32 *Here the direct object is supplied from context in the English translation
Luke 10:33 Here “when” is supplied as a component of the participle (“saw”) which is understood as temporal
Luke 10:33 *Here the direct object is supplied from context in the English translation
Luke 10:34 Here “and” is supplied because the previous participle (“came up”) has been translated as a finite verb
Luke 10:34 Here “and” is supplied because the previous participle (“put”) has been translated as a finite verb
Luke 10:35 Here “and” is supplied because the previous participle (“took out”) has been translated as a finite verb
Luke 10:35 Here the direct object is supplied from context in the English translation
Luke 10:35 Some manuscripts have “he took out and gave two denarii”
Lexham English Bible (LEB)
2012 by Logos Bible Software. Lexham is a registered trademark of Logos Bible Software
In a video streamed live on her Facebook account, Elin Ersson, who is reading sociology at Gothenburg University, is seen refusing to sit down and turning off her phone onboard a Turkish Airlines flight heading to Istanbul.
“A person is going to get deported to Afghanistan where there is war and he’s going to get killed,” the 21-year-old tells disgruntled crew members.
Ms. Ersson explains to the other passengers and the viewers of Facebook that she does not agree with Swedish deportation policy, which classifies Afghanistan as a safe country and sends rejected asylum seekers back.
She says Afghanistan was a country where the man “will most likely get killed” and explains that “I am doing what I can to save a person’s life”.
“As long as a person is standing up the pilot cannot take off. All I want to do is stop the deportation and then I will comply with the rules here.”