It’s exemplary to help someone in dire straits, friend or foe. It’s divine to live a deeply obliged life, paying an open-ended debt to hope, for as long as it takes, to heal the world.
“But a Samaritan came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’” – Luke 10:33-35 (NRSV)
The Samaritan takes that poor battered guy to the inn, nurses him a while, then goes on his way. But not before entrusting him to the innkeeper and promising to reimburse his expenses when he returns.
He doesn’t ask about the going rate for home health aides. He doesn’t set limits on what he’s willing to shell out. There’s nothing to prevent the innkeeper from padding the account, running up the tab, charging him a fortune. He just says, “Take care of him,” and signs a blank check.
That’s lavish. If you didn’t know better, you’d think the bruised man in the bed was a beloved sibling, not an ancestral enemy. Or you’d think the Samaritan’s the one feeling beholden for being saved, not the other way around.
It’s exemplary to risk yourself to rescue someone left for dead, friend or foe. It’s divine to believe they don’t owe you for that, but that in some great mystery of grace and kinship, you owe them. And always will.
It’s exemplary to help someone in dire straits, friend or foe. It’s divine to live a deeply obliged life, paying an open-ended debt to hope, always on the grateful hook for whatever it costs, for as long as it takes, to heal a bloodied world.
Show me how to live a deeply obliged life, dear Christ. Show me your own.
Mary Luti is a long time seminary educator and pastor, author of Teresa of Avila’s Way and numerous articles, and founding member of The Daughters of Abraham, a national network of interfaith women’s book groups.