Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

December 18, 2010

Luke 10: Parable of the Good Samaritan

Filed under: Preparedness and Response,Radicalization,Terrorist Threats & Attacks — by Philip J. Palin on December 18, 2010

Part 1 (verses 25-29)

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

He answered: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”

“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

The question posed is spiritual not biological. The lawyer has asked about aionios zoe – soul without beginning or end – in the original Greek.

The lawyer and Jesus agree on the essential requirements. Both know the fundamentals of the law set out in the sixth chapter of Deuteronomy.

But being tendentious in the way that lawyers and those religiously inclined often are — and perhaps a bit of a show-off as well — the lawyer asks a crucial follow-on, “And who is my neighbor?” More literally, the Greek asks, “And who is near to me?”

At the core of Jesus’ message is love of God and neighbor. In the New Testament Greek we are to agapao: to welcome, to entertain, to be fond of, to love dearly. In the Hebrew of Deuteronomy, we are to ‘ahab: to hunger after, seek out as a friend, and be intimate with.

In answering who is our neighbor, Jesus tells us of the Good Samaritan.

Part 2 (verses 30-37)

In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half 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 on 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, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coinsand 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.’ “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

The power of the parable depends on the lawyer’s – and our own – disdain for the other: Samaritan, Muslim, Jew, Catholic, liberal, conservative or whatever.

Jesus can make a sacrament even of our bigotry.

Again, Jesus does not deny the difference. The priest is different from the Levite and both are very different from the Samaritan.

Two do not recognize their neighbor and do not love their neighbor. The Samaritan – despite his religious affronts and error – personifies what the second great commandment means.

Love God. Love neighbor. “On these two commandments depend all the laws and the prophets.” (Matthew 22)

SATURDAY AFTERNOON ADDITION:  Please see very relevant story from today’s New York Times:

In Seconds Before Blast, The Making of a Hero

BALAD RUZ, Iraq — As the suicide bomber clutched the detonator to his explosive belt, preparing to spray fire and shrapnel into a religious procession here, an Iraqi police officer named Bilal Ali Muhammad faced a choice between his own life and something larger.

If he ran and took cover, Mr. Muhammad, 31, had a chance to save himself, to continue supporting his widowed mother, to help put his younger brother through college and to watch his three young daughters grow up.

Instead, the officer — a Sunni Muslim — threw himself onto the bomber, blunting the explosion’s impact on the Shiite worshipers.

“He gave his soul to the country,” said his mother, Alaahin Hassan, holding two of his daughters in her lap as dozens of black-veiled women filled her living room this week with ritualized wails of grief. “He believed in God. That made him great.”

In a country fractured by sect and ethnicity, from villages like this all the way to the government that is finally forming in Baghdad, Mr. Muhammad’s last act was a burst of heroism and humanity set against the viciousness that still stalks Iraq.



This is the sixth post in a weekend series that will conclude on December 24.  The purpose is to examine possible principles for inter-religious relations emerging from six scriptural texts.

The first post on December 3 was Tis the season… to deal directly with religious difference.

The second post on December 4 was Avoid Samaritan Towns.

The third post on December 5 was The Woman at Jacob’s Well.

The fourth post on December 11 was Jesus accused of being a Samaritan.

The fifth post on December 12 was A Samaritan town rejects Jesus  (including several reader comments)

Tomorrow: The Thankful Leper

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Comment by William R. Cumming

December 18, 2010 @ 8:20 am

Another interesting post for HS! Thanks Phil for this series. My problem of course is whether the religious concern for “neighbors” reflected even in the 10 Commandments for Jews and Christians can somehow be translated and not mistranslated into our dealings with the “others” that our society seems to want to make based on fear and ignorance. I am not knowlegable enough about that other great Western religion fostered by the environs of the desert to make a judgement as to the treatment of neighbors or the “other” but I certainly don’t think labeling all other religious believers or even non-believers “infidals” is a good start.

I grew up in a community that was in fact and hoping still is a community where people from a variety of backgrounds although not economic equality became friends and neighbors–specifically Arlington VA recently identified as one of the richer communities in the US. The best friends of my sons growing up were Iraqi-Americans. Even today both sons work with a variety of ethnic backgrounds in the food service industry and enjoy that work for that reason.

So fearmongering of the “other” takes many forms but it certainly starts with the same principle that dominated the civil rights movement and discrimination against blacks in the US. You have to be “taught” to hate. The US should take proactive steps to act against the “haters” and in particular the organized ones. Can a political party be built on “hate”? I think the largely democratic Weimar Republic shows that possibility. Hitler the result. He certainly hated the “other” and given the relative freedom and tolerance of the Austrian Hollenzollerans still beleive his personal circumstances not milieu was responsible.

There is no question in my mind however that right now in American life fear of the “other” is growing not diminishing and many in public life thrive on division not addition to the ranks of Americans who beleive in this country, its history and future.

I always like the statement of Andy Jackson that “it is not the purpose of government to make men rich”! Unfortunately it appears that many in the current political and economic leadership believe exactly that an those who are educationally, or economically, or otherwise disadvantaged are increasingly viewed as the “other”!

Calvanism fell to the logical absurdism of the notion that some were “elected” to the Kingdom of Heaven. I would argue from Phil’s post that the Calvinistic catechism deserved to fail because it encourage in opposition to the biblical text cited by Phil to encourage division and regarding even our “neighbors” as the “other’!

I noticed that a huge Tribal Leader assembly in Washington occurred this week with DHS leaders attending. Oddly before discovering this I posted a blog entry on Native Americans and EM this AM. Many in the past and even the present still regard that group as the “other” rather than “neighbors”!

Comment by Iraqi Intolerance of Another Must Cease

December 19, 2010 @ 4:46 am

Bilal Ali Muhammed, 31, a Sunni Muslim, must be honored as an Iraqi Patriot throwing himself on a cold murderer seeking to harm religious procession.

Bilal Ali Muhammed’s three daughters must realize that their Father made a decision for them to blunt the force of evil and replce it with the hope that whther Sunni or other, all must live with one another and strive to understand and respect differing perspective, not take God’s judgement of his child, his Creation into one’s hand on a suicide belt making such decision for it is only our Creator who can take another Life, not a senseless act of violence, an intentional act of criminal intent. May he rest in Peace.

Bilal Ali Muhammed should be praised and every Iraqi should see this mistrust of another felloe Muslim and consequently this ongoing religious strife as further reason why each of you must respect differences of perceptions, not kill innocent people and maybe not necessarily embrace another, but to formulate a country where others can voice their disfavor of another yet live in harmony seeking to better understand one another.

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