A Good Samaritan – Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time 2019
We all have within us the potential to be a Good Samaritan. We occasionally see on conventional or social media about a man or woman who does something extraordinary – possibly dying because of it – because he or she dove into a difficult situation without fear or hesitation.
There is even a federal law here in Canada known as the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act, which provides immunity from simple possession charges for those who call 911 in the case of overdose. This is particularly helpful in the opioid crisis, which is claiming the lives of thousands of Canadians.
People who witness a crime or dangerous situation and jump in to rescue someone in danger are generally referred to as Good Samaritans. How often have you read of someone who rushes into a burning house or a fast-moving river, hoping to rescue someone in need? (Recall that a Samaritan was hated by Jews, and would have had no expectation of helping our Gospel traveller from Jerusalem to Jericho. Recall the Gospel account of the Samaritan woman at the well.)
Moses certainly didn’t have Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan in mind when he spoke the words in the Book of Deuteronomy, but his words about the commandments of the Lord are apropos: It is not far away in heaven; neither is it beyond the sea. “No, the word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart for you to observe.”
What motivates ordinary men and women who become recognized as Good Samaritans? Like Jesus’ hero, they are outsiders or bystanders who risk their lives, to jump into a situation which doesn’t necessarily concern their own family or kin. As they say about blood donations, we have it within us to give. We are generally good and compassionate people. Even the most hardened and cold-blooded person has the possibility of having a change of heart, and possibly giving up his or life for another.
Out of curiosity, I just glanced at a few internet sites dedicated to passing on good-news stories of contemporary Good Samaritans and heroes:
- “I know that people think that I’m a hero, but I didn’t do anything that someone wouldn’t do for my children. My own children are now healthy adults. I took one look at that fire and knew that my neighbours had five young children under the age of eight and that the house wasn’t going to last long. I relied on a kind of inner courage. I couldn’t live with myself if I stood by. I’m not a hero. I’m just human.”
- “I was walking through my neighbourhood and saw a man physically assaulting a woman. The man had a knife in his hands, was screaming and threatening the woman. I’m not a big or strong man. But I found an inner-courage that gave me the strength to pin the man to the ground and I grabbed the knife and threw it away. A young couple came by and stayed with the woman and called 911. Would I risk my life again in a situation like that? In a heartbeat!”
You may be sitting next to a Good Samaritan.