Good Samaritans, Innkeepers and the Incarnation

Last week a member of my congregation, who we shall call Jay for want of imagination, was walking in Stormont Estate as is her habit, but she slipped and fell down a bank, and immediately felt a crack in her lower leg. She lay stunned for a moment or two, then gingerly go herself to a sitting position… She couldn’t get up. So she looked around for some help, and thankfully there was another lady walking the same path. Surely she had seen her slip and fall. But this other lady made no move to help her.

“Help!” Jay cried, but the other lady kept on walking. “Please help me!” she shouted from the bottom of the bank, but no more than twenty feet away, the other lady passed by. Someone today said that they probably had their “ipod” or some other such device stuck in their ears and couldn’t hear Jay calling. If that were the case wouldn’t it be even more ironic if they had their ipods in and were listening to some deafening “praise music”? But that is just speculation.
What actually happened was that another girl came tottering up the path on stiletto heels… She didn’t need to be called… She saw Jay, came down the hill, at great risk to life and limb given the shoes she was wearing… She took off her coat and gave it to Jay, and phoned for an ambulance, staying until they came.

This woman had been on her way to a protest at government as she was a classroom assistant who was part of the union in dispute with the Education Department over their terms and conditions… And only a few weeks before Jay and I had been discussing how our sympathy for those care assistants was being slowly eroded because their industrial action was radically affecting the most vulnerable of children.

There are clearest parallels here with Jesus’ story of the “good” Samaritan, an oxymoron in the mind of a contemporary Jew. But perhaps being open to unexpected sources of kindness was a lesson learned early by Jesus, as his mother told him about a kind inkeeper (another oxymoron in the minds of contemporaries) who had given Joseph and her a stable for her son to be born in…

Or perhaps it best expresses what Christ himself has done for us… coming down from a height at great risk… Clothing us in his righteousness… and staying with us…

Originally published in Mockingbird's Leap


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