The Good Samaritan

November 23, 2015

In the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 10, Verses 25-37 Jesus is asked about loving your neighbor. In response Jesus defines who is a neighbor with this parable:

“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him for dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled , came where the man was, and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘ Look after him’ he said, ‘ and when I return I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

Jesus then asked, “Which of these three do you think was the neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” It was obvious to all present with Jesus – ” The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus then says, ” Go and do likewise.”

This powerful parable of the Samaritan should serve as a guide for all Christians in this country and indeed around the world as they are asked to show mercy to those Syrian refugees who have been beaten down by the Assad regime and left “half dead.” Sadly, politicians who claim to be avid readers and supporters of the Bible’s message choose to ignore the words of Jesus when it comes to responding to the poor, the hungry, the displaced. Christians are supposed to be followers of Christ.

The Samaritan, a foreigner, got the message of Jesus and went out of his way to help someone in need. Being a modern day Samaritan is certainly filled with challenges and sacrifices, but as this country debates the fate of thousands of Syrian refugees it is helpful to remember the good deed of this stranger on the road to Jericho.

 

 

 


Being Safe and Sorry

November 19, 2015

In the wake of the Paris massacre and the yet unproven link between one of the terrorists and Syrian migrants, the Congress, most of the nation’s governors and the American people soundly reject President Obama’s decision to take in 10,000 refugees next year. The opposition to Obama’s promise is based not just on national security concerns and a lack of faith in the vetting process of the Syrians, both legitimate reasons, but a more sinister rejection of Islam and those people who hold to that religion, no matter what hardships they have endured.

When Ben Carson uses the term “dogs” in reference to the Syrians. Donald Trump pledges to close mosques, Jeb Bush wants only to protect Christian Syrians, and Ted Cruz talks makes off handed remarks about internment camps, it becomes quickly obvious that stopping Obama’s plan is more than just about national security and bureaucratic incompetence.

To use a word often used by former president George H.W.Bush, it would be prudent to delay any Syrian refugee resettlement program until the United States and its allies get a better handle on terrorist sleeper cells and lone wolf fanatics, and construct a comprehensive international strategy to destroy ISIL and its caliphate that bridges Syria and Iraq. It is just common sense to sort out the threat, build better intelligence networks, beef up security and go after ISIL where they live.

But because we are in an election cycle of enormous importance to the nation, fear too easily overwhelms reason and common sense. Let’s not forget that the 1st Amendment protects the ” free exercise ” of religion, Lady Liberty welcomes the oppressed – ” give me your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free.” and we as a people have always taken pride in the long and proud tradition of tolerating differences, ( and oh yes, Steve Jobs’ father was a Syrian immigrant).

It is important that we as a people not let fear take over our lives and religious bigotry rule the day. The prudent course of action is to fashion an entry system for Syrian refugees that is not haphazard and filled with bureaucratic exceptions. This will take some time. But let us not as a nation fall prey to those who are anxious to make this an anti-Muslim crusade and make the all the followers of Islam into terrorists.