Neighbours

(Day 24 — Something that you’ve learned)

I should never have set my feet upon this road. They warned me, you know. They said that I was likely to get beaten. They said that I was likely to get robbed.

Well. I was both beaten and robbed. What more, I am stripped off the very fabric that just this very morning had clothed and covered my skin.

I’m almost naked. The sun is beating down upon my wounds. I can’t feel my legs. I can’t feel my arms. I can’t feel my — Oh God, what did they do to my arms?

Water. I need water. If only it would rain. Perhaps that would wash away the blood and grime off my skin. Perhaps that would soothe my parched throat. Perhaps —

Wait! What is that I see? I fear I’m in the state of delirium — but is that a wayfarer there yonder? Tassels in his robe — oh, he’s wearing a robe — and —

Gone. My first hope of rescue. Lost.

I squint at the dust. The brown particles, they lull me to sleep. They fly up into the air, swirl around my nostrils, conjuring up unidentifiable images that only make my head spin.

Linen. They’re forming patterns that look like linen. Linen??? On a Levite? Could it be? Is that a Levite down the road? Oh kind-hearted soul —

Gone. My second hope of deliverance. Lost.

I shall die today in this road I never should have taken.

What will happen to my wife? She shall have to find a kinsman redeemer. Oh, I can not bear it. Her with another man! But I can not bear the thought either of her facing the stigma of being a widow, of being a —

What are these? Hands. Hands touching my wounds. Is that oil dripping on my skin? Are those bandages being wrapped around my shoulders? Are those —

I can feel my feet again. I can feel my arms. My fingers — can I move my fingers again? A tiny twitch. That’s good enough.

The hands. They are lifting me up. Into the back of an animal. I am saved. I am being rescued. I am —

My mind goes blank. After a second, I remember nothing more.

* * *

“Well look at you. I was thinking you’d never get up. You’ve been out for three days now, you know.”

“I was? Wait. Where am I?”

“Jericho Inn, my dear friend. Jericho Inn.”

“How did I get here?”

“A Samaritan fellow took you in. Haggard fellow, really. Kept fishing around his pockets for some denarii that could at least keep you here. Said he’ll come back. Got some more expenses to cover. Was that guy your friend? You mightn’t see him anymore though. Dunno if you’ll catch him. Or if he’ll catch you. You’re good to go by this afternoon, you know.”

I imagine my eyes are as wide as saucers as the innkeeper and I engage in this exchange. A Samaritan? A man from an opposing camp? A Samaritan fellow helped out a — a Jew?

How totally unreasonable.

Moments later, I hear footsteps. My heart jumps in my chest. Seconds after, I see him.

“Innkeeper, is he well?”

I clear my throat. My eyes meet those of my deliverer.

“Yes, I am well. Thank you. My life is indebted to you.”

End.

“Which of these three, do you think, proved to be the neighbour to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:36-37)

The Good Samaritan. The Helpless Jew. It’s a well worn tale I grew up with in church and in Sunday School. But revisiting the story this Sunday gave a rather fresh learning — and yes, a fresh stirring — to my soul.

The lawyer had asked Jesus what he had to do to inherit life eternal. Jesus had asked him in turn, “What is written in the law?” The lawyer knew this well. It showed in his reply — “Give your all to God. Give your all to your neighbour as well.” (See Luke 10:25-28)

But who is my neighbour? And — this is a tough one — based on the story and based on Jesus’ and the lawyer’s exchange — am I a neighbour?

“The neighbour is the one who showed the man mercy.”

This be my Sunday learning. Truly, it is not right to say that you love God but not love His people. Indeed, it is incomprehensible if you give your whole heart to the Invisible but withhold every part from those visible around you.

So. Today. Tomorrow. Will I be like the priest, like the Levite, who just drifted by? Or will I be a neighbour? Will I be like that Samaritan guy?

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