Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan, which is among the most well-known stories ever told, still has much to teach us. I have set out to retell this parable from a few different contemporary angles to remind us of Jesus‘ universal application: Every person is my neighbor including, and indeed especially, the foreigner (Leviticus 19:34).
[The first retelling, along with Jesus’ original parable from Luke 10, can be found here: The Good Samaritan: A Syrian Perspective.]
Like the original parable, I have chosen each detail purposefully in order to convey a deeper meaning. I have also tried to frame each of these retellings of the parable with one major overarching question.
THE “GOOD SAMARITAN”: AN ASYLUM-SEEKER PERSPECTIVE
Please read this retelling of the parable with this thought/question in mind: Just a little investigation into the current US border crisis would convince anyone this could easily be a true story. Like the Samaritan in Jesus’ parable, what does this “good samaritan” teach us about about righteousness and sacrifice for our neighbor?
A Honduran man had walked for 47 days with his wife and small child from Tegucigalpa to Ciudad Juarez. The family had hopes of reaching the U.S. border to seek asylum the next day. That evening, the man decided to go alone to scout out their final route. He was walking along Calle Oro when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.
A diplomático happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, un policía, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. Eventually, the injured man crept into an alley where he lay cold and alone until the next morning, as his family feared the worst.
But a Mexican man, as he made his way to the border for the next week of work in El Paso, came to where the man was. When he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he carried the man back to his home and took care of him. The next day he told his wife, “Use everything we have if you need to in order to look after him. When I return, God willing, we will have more money to pay for any extra expenses.”
Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?
In Mexico, much like in the United States, asylum-seekers and migrant workers are often viewed as suspect. It would not be surprising that a public servant or person of prominence would ignore a Honduran victim. For one thing, this foreigner was foolish enough to bring such trouble upon himself. For another, with plenty of trouble to go around for all in a place like Juarez, why would anyone want to become an additional victim?
In Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan, each character was used strategically. For more, see the end of my previous post.
In this retelling of the parable, we are meant to consider the deep humanity of the two Hispanic men who bookend the story. One is an asylum-seeker from Honduras who is desperately trying to be faithful to care for his family as the Bible commands (1 Timothy 5:8). He and his family have no sinister reasons for seeking entry into the U.S. They have risked all they have to find safety within our borders, and they cannot turn back.
The man from Mexico also defies the common belief that migrant workers are only seeking to take from others in order to serve themselves. Nothing is mentioned about the man’s legal status. He may have a work permit from USCIS, he may not. He could be a U.S. citizen for all we know. His status is not the point. Like the Samaritan in Jesus’ parable, his origin, destination, and reasons for traveling became irrelevant when he came across the injured man. He used every resource available to help the stranger, and he committed future resources if extended care was needed.
At a time when the border crisis worsens every day, we cannot afford to fall prey to the many current attempts to dehumanize our neighbors south of the U.S. border. If we do not stand and speak against these false narratives, we too will be trying unsuccessfully to justify ourselves with the question: “Who is my neighbor?”