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Go and Do Likewise

Recently, I had an opportunity to meditate on Luke 10:25-37, the passage on the Good Samaritan. Since I was commemorating the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, I read it from the Indigenous people and white settlers' relational lens instead of the first century Samaritans and Jews relational lens. When I read it through this lens, the parable spoke so much truth to our current reality and through this blog, I am sharing three insights that I was able to glean.

An expert of the law asked Jesus how one can inherit eternal life, or be saved, and Jesus’ answer was ‘to love God and one’s neighbour.’ The Jew then probed further by asking who is our neighbour? (With the expectation that Jesus’ next answer would vindicate him.) Rather than giving a straightforward answer, Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan. 

Jesus is calling for our white settler Christians to include Indigenous people into their category of neighbour and spiritual family.

As many of us know, during the first century Palestine, Jews people saw Samaritans as sinners and people who were much lower in status. Observing how the Jews typically treat Samaritans in the Gospel of Luke, it is safe to assume that even this expert of the law was not considering Samaritans as his neighbour. However, through the parable, Jesus was inviting him to expand his circle of neighbours. Humans have the tendency to have friends and neighbours who usually look and act like us, people who share similar skin colour, cultural practices, and ethnic backgrounds. Yet, since Christians are called to be countercultural, Jesus is calling all of us to expand our circle of neighbours. Especially here in North America, Jesus is calling for our white settler Christians to include Indigenous people into their category of neighbour and spiritual family. It is after including all our diverse ethnic, racial, and cultural communities as part of our neighbour, we should ask ourselves again if we are loving all our neighbours or are we simply loving a particular neighbour and not the other neighbours.

As I read this parable, I cannot help but really wonder why the priest and the Levite, who were Jewish leaders and considered as holy mediators, simply passed by the injured man. Biblical scholars offer various reasons of why they did not help the man but the majority agree that it is primarily because they feared that they would be labelled as impure or misunderstood by their surrounding community and therefore, lose their title, role, and job. If this is right, through the parable, Jesus is teaching that if we are ever in a dilemma whereby helping someone, the community where we belong would label us as impure, irreligious, un-Christian, un-Reformed, Marxist, or sinner, to choose compassion. Because, by choosing compassion, we are choosing to love, and by choosing to love, we are choosing to inherit eternal life. 

Maybe, from Jesus’ perspective, love is also willing to be helped, to be served by people who we generally see as lower than us.

Finally, it is interesting to see which characters appear in the parable and what roles they play. For me, it would have made much more sense if the injured man was a Samaritan and that a regular Jewish man helped because Jesus was telling this parable to a Jew. Yet, Jesus intentionally tells the parable as a Jewish man receiving help from a Samaritan, from this ungodly and impure person. Typically, we tend to think that people with more power, status, and resources are the ones helping those who are in need. So, the help is generally seen as one-directional. Receiving help in our society that emphasises individualism and self-sufficiency is sometimes viewed as weakness. But, through this parable, Jesus is explaining that the Jewish man needed to receive help from the Samaritan to live. It seems like Jesus is asserting to this self-righteous teacher of the law that you also need to receive help from people whom you see as impure. Maybe, from Jesus’ perspective, love is also willing to be helped, to be served by people who we generally see as lower than us.

In Canada, white settlers have so much more to do in their journey of reconciliation. Part of the journey is to help, contribute, and serve. At the same time, it is also to accept Indigenous neighbours' help and service. Seeing them as mutual partners and allowing their gifts to shape and transform white settlers is a pivotal part of this long journey of truth and reconciliation. I am convinced that Indigenous people have so much to teach us about life, how to relate with this land, and how to deepen our relationship with our Creator God. So, loving our Indigenous siblings’ means receiving their gifts with an attitude that without them, we are not complete, that without them, we cannot inherit eternal life. 

Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

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