A couple of weeks ago in Year 1 and 2 CARE, the children heard the story Jesus told of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25–37). It’s a powerful story to teach children about the importance of ‘stepping up’ and how we all have a responsibility to make the world a better place. Small things add up to making a huge difference.
Children can easily identify with the Samaritan. The other two men who walked past the person in need, the priest and the Levite, were respected religious dignitaries, but the Samaritan seems to be much more the normal man and easy to identify with. And the fact that Jesus used a Samaritan as an example of doing the right thing, despite tension between the Jewish and the Samaritans, made it even better. We can still help others even if we are not friends or do not agree on everything. We can follow the example of the Samaritan and do well in God’s eyes.
His example was one of selflessness, empathy, compassion, going out of his way, rising to a challenge and not being afraid to step out of his comfort zone. As a child, this can seem so easy to take on board. Of course I can befriend the girl with no friends, or play with the boy at recess who has been excluded from a game. Of course I can use my free time to help my mum around the house, or stay after school and help my teacher clean up the classroom. It doesn’t seem that hard to look around and see opportunities to be a neighbour to somebody.
But what about for adults? That world we live in seems less black and white. I live in a big city and there are homeless people that I walk by without a second thought. I constantly drive my car past strangers who are waiting in the rain for a bus to take them in a similar direction and I do not offer them a ride. I am bombarded with emails and phone calls to give money to charities and I try to hang up before the person on the line can begin their appeal. When I go shopping at the supermarket, there are people at the entrance, asking me to donate a dollar to this or that cause; my knee jerk reaction is no. I am desensitised to these kinds of needs.
Surely Jesus wasn’t telling me to treat only people I know and like as my neighbour, because the example He gave tells of a stranger offering love and kindness to another stranger. And He wasn’t telling me to keep to my comfort zones – that’s what the priest and the Levite did in this story.
It seems as if He was trying to teach me about radical love and kindness. A love that knows no boundaries. A love that is willing to sacrifice, give up money, comfort, lifestyle, schedules and social restrictions. Now I need to ask myself how I can show that sort of love.
Janine de Paiva
Junior School Chaplain