The Good Samaritan: Humanity as One Family.
The Southern Poverty Law Center reported recently that hate groups are at an all-time high in the U.S. What a pertinent time to revisit one of Jesus’s most powerful parables, “The Good Samaritan.”
I am not a Christian by religious doctrine. As a minister for Spiritworks Center for Spiritual Living, I believe that all the great teachers throughout the ages, no matter what religion spawned from their teachings, are worthy of our attention. They had wisdom about something larger than the physical world we walk in and experience, and it’s up to each of us to discern which teachings resonate.
This parable certainly resonates with me.
In its original form, a Jewish man is walking down the street when he’s jumped by bandits, beaten bloody, and thrown into a ditch by the side of the road. A priest of the temple who is walking down the street sees him, but passes him by. Then a Levite, a member of one of the sacred houses of ancient Israel, crosses to the other side of the street to avoid the man, thinking him a beggar.
Finally, a Samaritan, those people of the time who were considered dirty by the tribes of Israel because they married outside the faith, came along and helped the man. The Samaritan took him home and healed him.
The parable was spoken in answer to the question, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus wanted us to know that it is not the color of our skin, our religion, nor our sexual preference that makes for a good neighbor, but the content of a person’s heart.
I do not believe that Jesus can save us from our sins, only we can do that. To my mind, the biggest sin is when we close our hearts and forget that we are all one family.
Hate groups are at an all-time high. What better a time to remember to love our neighbors? As Gandhi said so eloquently, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
We can’t eradicate hate with protest, upset and more hate. What we can do is rise, remembering who we truly are: powerful, creative, spiritual beings, able to bring forth love at any moment, in any circumstance, no matter what.
The Samaritan in the original parable knew the man he was helping hated him, and yet he helped him anyway. What a strong, salient message for today.
A Tibetan monk named Palden Gyatso was tortured in Chinese prisons and labor camps for 33 years for protesting their rule over Tibet. On his release, he met with the Dalai Lama and told him his only concern while he was hit with an electric cattle prod, burned with hot irons and beaten into unconsciousness day in and day out, was that he would stop loving those that tortured him.
The Dalai Lama calls him the most enlightened man on the planet.
I am not saying here that we must be tortured to become enlightened. I am saying that when our anger rises and we want to strike out at those who hate us, we have become exactly that which we don’t want. Jesus knew this. Palden Gyatso knows this. The rest of us get to keep learning.
Our modern-day telling of the Good Samaritan is our way of reminding ourselves of the truth of who we all have come here to be, and that love is always, always, always the answer.
Rev. Cliff Rubin is the Senior Minister at Spiritworks Center for Spiritual Living in Burbank, CA. He is also the grateful husband of Ashley Fuller Rubin and father of Isaac Rubin. After achieving a BS in Filmmaking from the Los Angeles Film School, he has put together a troupe of amazing congregants to inspire through film, to creatively do what Mahatma Gandhi so eloquently stated, “Be the change you wish to see.”