Monday, July 12, 2010

The Good Samaritan -- the Universal Person

In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus tells of a Jewish traveller attacked by robbers and left for dead. Two of his own people see him, but pass on the other side. Finally, a Samaritan comes to his aid.

At that time, Jews and Samaritans were enemies. So, here we have a stranger helping someone he is supposed to hate. The story asks which of the three acted as a neighbour to the injured person. Who is my neighbour? The answer, of course, is that our neighbour is anyone we are in a position to help.

The parable universalizes the idea of neighbour. Jesus later reinforces this concept when he instructs his disciples to teach all nations, not just the people we know.

This dismissal of tribal thinking emphasizes the notion of the individual. He or she need no longer suffer for the misdeeds of others in their community. It abolishes collective guilt and collective punishment.

We each make our own heaven or hell by our own personal effort.

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