If Jesus was telling the parable of the Good Samaritan to a church today (recognising that he had a religious audience) who would be the characters in order to have the same shocking impact as the Jewish victim and the Samaritan hero? It’s worth noting that even though the Samaritan was the hero of his story that does not mean that Jesus agreed with him on every point. He was merely a shocking illustration to show what a good neighbour looks like.
The parable of the hoody Samaritan? An old lady is mugged in the street and the hero turns out to be a hoody-wearing teenager who has previously been making fun of her.
The parable of the good muslim. A racist man throws a petrol bomb at a mosque and is injured by the explosion. The Imam takes him into his home and tends his wounds.
If these are not sufficiently disturbing for Christians, let me try this version:
A fundamentalist Christian was preaching in the street. He was denouncing all kinds of evil in society: especially condemning the British Government for introducing legislation to legalise same sex marriage and being particularly scathing about gay men and women.
As he spoke he suffered a sudden serious heart attack and collapsed to the ground, unconscious.
“Serves him right,” said one onlooker. “He should not be such a bigot.”
“Thank goodness that he has stopped preaching,” said a passing vicar. “He’s ruining the reputation of Christians.”
But a gay couple stopped where he lay. One gave cardiac massage while the other called for an ambulance. The man regained consciousness and one of the couple took off his coat and made a pillow on the ground while the other spread his coat over the stricken preacher to keep him warm until the ambulance arrived.
Jesus said, “Which of these do you think was a neighbour to the man who had a heart attack?”
[insert your answer here]
Jesus said, “Go and do likewise.”
If that does not make you feel uncomfortable (which may or may not be a good thing) how about this question for reflection: Is the ‘do likewise’ about being kind and nice and helpful?
Or is it actually about asking for his Spirit to help us to overcome our prejudices and living graciously?
And if you want to feel really uncomfortable, try this question for size: who might Jesus make the hero of the story if he was telling it to you?
Be blessed, be a blessing.