By Veronica Squires

The Good Samaritan by Rembrandt

The other day I was thumbing through the Bible looking for a passage to meditate on and I landed on the famous story of the Good Samaritan. I have always loved this story, but since I started working for The Good Samaritan Health Center five years ago it has taken on even more significance.

On this most recent reading I expected to notice the usual things such as…

  • The contrast in the story between those who think they are righteous and the one who is.
  • The difference between being concerned with earning good things from God vs. being concerned with giving good things away.
  • The personal risk taken on by the Samaritan to tend to the broken man’s wounds.

These are all good lessons that continue to challenge me as I more often resemble the one who would pass by on the other side than the Good Samaritan. I like my comfort and safety and I do not like to be interrupted.

But this story stands as a constant reminder that invitations to serve are always breaking into our lives to ask us, “are you ready to respond?”

Like I said, these are the usual lessons – which I am far from mastering.

But on this reading, I saw something new related to the economics of the rescue. After the Good Samaritan has stopped to tend to the man who fell into the hands of robbers, he puts him on his own donkey and takes him to an inn where he doctors and cares for him. Then Luke 10:35 says:

35 And the next day he took out two denarii[a] and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 

It struck me that we don’t know anything about the personal finances of the Samaritan. We know he had a donkey and oil and wine on hand, but it’s not clear that he was a wealthy man. Yet, in responding to the needs of this total stranger he essentially tells the innkeeper – “Spare no expense in caring for this man’s needs”. Spare no expense!

This is a hard word in the current COVID-19 pandemic. So many Good Samaritan non-profit organizations are struggling to keep up with the needs because they are so great. We’re running out of oil and wine, donkeys are in short supply, and there are no beds left in the inn. Sometimes, Good Samaritans need a Good Samaritan.

Never in my career has the distinct role of being a donor to a charitable organization been so needed and clear. Non-profits, particularly charitable clinics, are on the front lines trying to respond to an overwhelming number of people who have fallen into the hands of COVID-19, but we can’t do it alone.

Unlike the Biblical story, one Good Samaritan is not enough. We need thousands of them, working in concert on the ground and supported by a steady stream of Good Samaritans sending cash, supplies, and prayers.

The impact is direct and immediate. In the case of my clinic, each recent grant has opened up new opportunities allowing us to do things like keep all of our staff employed, purchase additional supplies and PPE, launch a COVID-19 response hotline, purchase test kits from a local supplier, etc. We are sparing no expense in caring for both our staff and patients – but that’s only possible because we stand on the shoulders of our donors.

During these uncertain and scary times, making healthy neighborhoods and working toward health equity is going to require a lot. COVID-19 has shone a bright light on the already existing health disparities in our country. If we really want to flatten the curve it’s going to cost us. We need all of us, with one mind, believing that we should spare no expense to keep people in this country healthy and flourishing, starting with the most vulnerable.

Will you join us today and be a Good Samaritan?

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