The Gospel pericope of Luke 10:25-37, better known by its title, the Parable of the Good Samaritan, is universal and relevant to all peoples, irrespective of their position within society, their age, their cultural context, the era in which they live or their geographical location. This is because the question raised by an arrogant and deceitful practitioner of the Mosaic Law, went straight to the heart of human anxiety and concern, the recognition of our finite mortal existence: “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
Naturally, this is a very pragmatic question to ask when engaging in spiritual discourse, and gives the false impression of being very simple. However, it encrypts within it three key questions and thoughts, because we need to know:
*(A.) What do we mean by “eternal life”?
*(B.) What role does God play in bestowing eternal life?
*(C.) How does humanity, whether at the communal or individual level, respond to God’s blessing of eternal life?
The dialogue that transpires between the lawyer and Christ, mainly focuses on the third point, and only makes passing references to the first two points, because they speak with a prior and congruent perception of what eternal life is and how God extends that gift of salvation. Needless to say, the lawyer’s intention is not for serious spiritual discourse, but is aimed at entrapping Christ into some sort of prosecutable offence or perversion of the Mosaic Law that would indite or discredit Him. Yet Christ brings us to the central principle which links all three points raised by the lawyer’s question, with regards every human person, that is; What is the practice of true faith in reality?
From the outset, we should consider and summarise each theme which underpins this narrative, before we explore its sublime complex simplicity:
*(1.) Eternal life is a gift of God, which is available to all humans who are willing to respond to this invitation towards immortality.
*(2.) This invitation and gift transcends time, culture, social status, age and geography. It does not discriminate between peoples on any of these accounts.
*(3.) Eternal life can only be bestowed by God, since He is the Creator and the source and origin of all life. Therefore, this means we must establish and cultivate a direct personal relationship with God, because eternal life actually means, dwelling in the loving radiant presence of God. Thus, to become partakers within His divine life of communal love. That is why God created us out of love, to share in this reality, which St Paul cites is the only desire God has for us, our sanctification (theosis).
*(4.) God has bestowed eternal life and salvation through an ongoing covenant, which has as its ultimate seal in the figure of the Messiah, who physically/ontologically unites within His very being divinity and creation. Thus He serves as the link between God and humanity, by virtue of being both.
*(5.) The Messiah affirms the covenant relationship between God and humanity, which is the Church, that was first manifested as the relationship between Adam and Eve with God, or later on as the relationship of promise between Abraham and his brethren with God, or the ancient nation of Israel, or the final fulfilment known to us as the Apostolic Church of Pentecost.
*(6.) Given the common origins that all humans have by virtue of God being our Creator, we thus share the same divine image and belong to the same family that we call humanity.
*(7.) Due to being ontologically linked to one another, we have a responsibility to each other by showing the same love and respect as God shows towards us when He created us and presently sustains on a daily basis.
*(8.) Consequently, the adherence to God’s Law, should not occur at the level of its letter, but according to its spirit and principle. That is why St Paul makes the comment that many things may be lawful for him, but few are beneficial to his well-being and according to God.
That in full, are the principles dealt with by this gospel narrative.
Spiritual Guidance, Pedagogy and Symbolism
However, the particular emphasis the narrative makes, is upon the eighth point, since the lawyer seeks to draw out Christ into a debate upon man-made legalistic rules, regulations and interpretations that govern the practice of faith. Invariably, Christ astutely seeks to refocus the lawyer’s perception and understanding of Judaism as well as the Mosaic Law. Christ does this, by posing two questions in response to the lawyer’s question, so as to cause him to meditate on and identify what the Mosaic Law’s purpose was, to which the lawyer considered himself to be an expert of: “What is written in the Law? What is your reading of it?”
The lawyer was diverted temporarily in a positive manner, by listening to Christ’s question and responding in a truly spiritual manner: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself”.
Despite offering this beautiful and comprehensive response which identified that one must love God and their fellow human being with all their heart, soul, mind and strength, the lawyer returns to being an arrogant spiteful sort of character, by pushing Christ to explain who is our neighbour, or put more succinctly to which people are we responsible to? The lawyer’s enquiry recalls to our memories the words of Cain, when he exclaimed to God, “Am I my brother’s keeper”, or the bizarre and blasphemous interpretations of certain sects of Judaism which believe that the Ten Commandments and the Mosaic Law only applies to fellow Jews, whereas Gentiles can be treated like garbage. Thus the lawyer’s “supplementary question” revealed the hypocrisy by which the traditions, doctrines and interpretations of the Jewish hierarchy of that time had ascribed to the Law, and thus invalidate its meaning or purpose. It was to this, that Christ’s ministry continuously rebuked, as was the case here in the Parable of the Good Samaritan, where He provides a double-edged answer with His response.
And so the account He relates is of a certain man who journeys from the Holy City of Jerusalem (whose name means “Holy Peace”) to Jericho, a city that was historically renown for being a place of great sin. Upon this journey from Holy Peace to Jericho, the man was beaten within an inch of his life, and stripped bare of his clothes and all his possessions by thieves. The thieves leave him for dead by the side of the road as an abject and despised object. Unfortunately the semi-dead man is totally ignored, first by a priest and then by a levite who passed him by. Yet, a Samaritan, who was a sworn enemy of the Jews, beheld the wounded man and had compassion for him. The Samaritan dressed the man’s wounds with wine and oil, before bandaging and clothing him. As the parable relates, the Samaritan places the wounded man upon his own animal, and takes him to the nearest inn, where he cared for him. The following day, the Samaritan paid the innkeeper, and told him to take care of the wounded man. Furthermore, if the innkeeper incurred any additional expenses in the care of, and hospitality of the wounded man, then the Samaritan promised to return to settle accounts with him.
In spiritual and existential terms, the parable relates the dangers of a life journey away from holiness and union with God (eternal life), as represented by Jerusalem; while being moved by temptations and weakness, to journey and succumb to a life of sin, as represented by Jericho. What occurs on the road for the man in the parable, is of course inevitable; since the thieves that beat him and leave him for dead, represent our own internal passions and the demons that seek to bait us with temptations, and encourage us to enact our own self-destruction, particularly through sin.
As for the priest and the levite, they firstly represent the Law and the Prophets that sought to bring humanity into righteousness. But as demonstrated by their responses to the half-dead man by the roadside, they were not able to effect this change, nor bestow life or healing upon the beaten man. If anything, the very wounds of sin were so deep that they did not have the power to restore the man’s health. This is also indicative of the fact that the Mosaic Law and the teachings of the Prophets are merely hollow if they remain at the level of words, teachings or guidelines, for they need to be affirmed by actions in order to be expressions of living faith. Yet in another sense, the priest and the levite also represent all the philosophies, religions, ideas, peoples or friends who delude or promise us the world, wholeness and deliverance from our afflictions, but ultimately cannot fulfill either, due to inability or deceiving us with false hope.
The Samaritan, on the other hand, represents the figure of Christ, who ignores entirely a person’s cultural, racial, linguistic or religious identity; nor is critical of the man’s reason for being upon that road to Jericho. Instead, out of compassionate love He descends from His place and seeks to medicate and heal the beaten man’s wounds using wine and olive oil. In practical terms of traditional medicine, wine was used as a disinfectant to clean and sterilise wounds in the absence of the usual remedies; while oil was applied to soothe the pain and help “conceal/congeal” the treated wounds before bandages were applied. In symbolic terms, the wine represents the blood of Christ shed upon the Cross, for the healing and reconciliation of humankind, especially from sin. The oil of course, refers to the oil of baptism which anoints and confirms us into being physically and spiritually joined to Christ and His Crucifixion, as well as the joy of the Resurrection. Yet the oil also refers to the oil of “efchelion” which is used to anoint the sick and dying.
In actual fact, the use of oil expresses another, but deeper cultural meaning, which is cited by the phrase “Kύριε ελεήσον” (Lord have mercy), for the word “ελεήσον” comes from the word “έλεος” which has the dual meaning of mercy and oil. The reference to olive oil, is a recognition of this product’s purpose of serving as a staple of life, just like bread or water. Thus for the ancient Mediterranean and Middle Eastern peoples, to “show mercy” is like offering the very staples of life such as water, oil, wine, bread, honey, milk and fish. The specific reference to showing mercy as an offering of oil, was that oil served innumerable purposes to the sustenance and quality of human life, in that it was used for lighting dwellings and streets, for the production of foodstuffs, as a lubricant in industrial workshops, in worship and religious events such as the Olympics, and as an agent or ingredient within medicine. Not coincidently, to many of the ancient peoples, the olive tree and the oil of its fruit, was seen as sacred and as a gift of the divine.
Subsequently, innumerable locations were planted with groves of olives dedicated to the honour or worship of the divine or holy figures. Nonetheless the meaning of extolling “Lord have mercy” (Kύριε ελεήσον) or more accurately translated as “Lord anoint us” or “sustain us”, also refers to the ancient practice within sporting contests like wrestling; whereby an athlete would anoint themselves from head to toe with olive oil before engaging in the feats of athleticism, whereby their anointment allowed them to escape from the clutches of competing opponents who may seek to deny them the opportunity of winning success by holding them back. With respects to the Christian context, the opponents are the demons and our passions, from which the oil of God helps us to not be clutched and held down by the demons or passions, but to “slip through” and escape to God who awaits us at the finishing line of the athletic contest of life.
This image and understanding is replete within other Christian writings, services and prayers such as the marriage service, where the couple are likened to an athletic “tag” team working together to succeed and win. Therefore Christ’s reference to the Samaritan using oil to soothe and heal over the wounds of the neglected half-dead man, was not coincidental, but didactic. And so, the descent of the Samaritan from his animal to condescend to the level of this prodigal, half-dead man, reveals what Christ’s Incarnational ministry towards humanity was, a condescension of God’s Anointed One to serve, heal and guide humanity, by becoming one with humanity and diverting it from the dangerous road to “Jericho”, (- That is, away from eternal life).
And as part of that healing ministry, humanity, like the half-dead man, are raised up by Christ, as represented by the Samaritan, upon a means of conveyance (like the animal in the parable) that leads to the inn where safety and comfort awaits. The inn and innkeeper, refer to the Church and its priesthood. The priests exist to serve as stewards of the Church and manage its day to day pastoral and liturgical affairs. And they do this with the payment that God has bestowed upon them via ordination and the sacraments, with the express purpose of “accommodating” people, extending the hospitality of God, and like the innkeeper, attend to the needs of the people that God has entrusted them with in total care, spiritual, physical and psychological (body, mind and soul).
Yet the recognition of the parable, that the innkeeper who is conscientious of his duty of ministry, will expend and sacrifice additional effort and resources to meet the needs and therapy of the injured man, will inevitably be compensated and assisted by God Himself. This duty of care is represented by the very tassels that hang from the stole (epitrachelion) of the Orthodox priests and bishops, and symbolise the souls of people brought to their care, whether believer or unbeliever. And for whose well-being and salvation the priest will have to give account for to God, in order to attain their own salvation at the time of death and the Day of Judgement. In a sense the stole with its many tassels hang around the neck of a priest like a rope with a mill-stone tied to it. But no matter how heavy that burden may be, the Lord like the Samaritan, will return to reimburse and bless the priest for their effort in extending the loving comfort of God’s hospitality. (However, failing to make an effort towards this calling will have the reverse consequences and not reward).
Reflection Upon The Mosaic Law & The Doctrine of Pharisaism
Nonetheless, these deep meanings and truths of the Parable also reveal to us, the other more literal and pointed edge of Christ’s teaching which is both a warning and a rebuke. The lawyer who posed his “question” to try and entrap Christ, was a product of post-exilic and post-“prophetic” Judaism, whereby the doctrines of “Pharisaism” had taken root. That is, the doctrines and much of the Jewish “oral law”, that had developed for the interpretation and application of the Mosaic Law, and the ordinances of the Old Testament (the Torah and the Prophets) within everyday life. Christ’s own ministry and teaching were controversial, because He challenged the validity of the “man-made” doctrines and interpretations which nullified the principles of the Mosaic Law and the teachings of the Torah and the Prophets. One of His most famous rebukes to this perversion of the Jewish Law, was in reference to the doctrinal stance of divorce and marriage which the Jewish priestly caste had adopted, and to which He personally condemned as invalidating the meaning and principle of the Law.
Yet Christ’s ministry and teaching was also controversial, because it was a call to return to the foundations and fundamental principles of Judaism. This return to “fundamentals” was couched in terms and actions that sought to shock and provoke thought by contrasting the hypocrisies and inconsistencies in the practice and living of Judaism. To much of the priestly caste, He was in effect viewed as a fundamentalist as well as a threat to their authority, and the validity of their wisdom and interpretations. In any case, the sarcastic irony of the parable was not lost upon the lawyer and the wider audience who knew quite well, that the Samaritans as a nation were sworn enemies of the Jews. And in principle, if not in practice, would have relished the opportunity to find a neglected, half-dead Jew by the roadside to kill! Of course this reflected the fact that the Jews and the Samaritans denounced each other as heretics and perverters of the faith of Abraham.
Within the parable, we see a simple, common Samaritan, an unbeliever and sworn enemy according to the Jews, show more mercy, love and faith according to the teachings of the Law, than did the priest or levite who were the designated guardians and “experts”. The point being raised was twofold, in that the Samaritan who was not a Jew, but a Gentile, who lived according to the Law and the Old Testament ordinances. However, the priest and the levite who were so bound by the Law and the finite man-made customs, traditions and interpretations attached to it, failed to perform the very essence of the Mosaic Legal Principle, because they would have had to undergo a week of “purification” before they were permitted to engage in their liturgical duties within the Temple. The question Christ raises by this very parable, is that in the eyes of God and the Law, what holds greater value; liturgical purity and adhering to various rituals, or the life of a human being, irrespective of who they are and what they have done?
When confronted in this blunt manner by Christ, the lawyer is humbled and responds appropriately by acknowledging that unlike Cain’s proclamation before God, we are “the keepers” of all peoples, irrespective of race, religion or culture. That we cannot discriminate, nor assert that the Mosaic Law and the ordinances of the Torah and Prophets, make particular distinctions between peoples and claim that they only apply to fellow Jews, which is a blasphemy against God. Unfortunately the “man-made” doctrines and the “oral law” which became codified in the Mishnah and Gemara, thus forming the infamous, racist, bloodthirsty and imperialistic Talmud, which came to dominate much of Judaism and steer it away from its venerable heritage. Consequently the Talmud in a sense, “secularised” and steered Judaism, towards a religious nationalism that makes discriminatory distinctions between Jews and advocates the ill-treatment, exploitation and enslavement of non-Jews.
This of course, goes contrary to the very famous Torah lesson as cited within the book of Genesis, whereby God, out of love, rebukes Cain’s insensitivity and evil for having killed his brother, and refusing to accept his responsibility as his “brother’s keeper”. The lesson and parallel drawn with the parable of the Good Samaritan, is simply that every person on this earth, has a social responsibility to the wider community and for the welfare and well-being of each other. We could easily term this principle as “collective responsibility”. That collective responsibility, as Christ highlights, does not make any distinctions between people, for we are all interconnected to one another, we are all dependent upon one another for survival and we are all created in the image of God, no matter how imperfect, stupid, angry, beautiful or virtuous we may be.
Critical Thinking Point
Yet if there are those who wish to question that very point, then let us consider a simple case of economics; for no person has knowledge of all trades, nor the time to engage and perform all of them. Nor procure all the resources necessary to produce all the goods and services they need to survive and live comfortably. Furthermore, no person is capable of producing all these necessary goods and services in absolute perfection, because as economic history attests to, it is through specialisation that the quality and innovations in goods and services have been developed and ensured. In other words a person produces surpluses of goods or services in the area that they are most capable in, and they trade this to secure what they lack or cannot produce as effectively. For example the cobbler who sells shoes to the local baker in order to acquire the bread that graces his table and feeds his family. This fundamental economic fact has underpinned the survival and existence of humanity upon this earth.
Hence this interconnectedness and dependence upon each other, and the need to engage one another responsibly, is a reality which is often commented upon throughout Holy Scripture. And it observes that to over-emphasise the “position” of the “individual” is detrimental to both the well-being and stability of the individual and society. Because, if society is a mere collection of “autonomous” individuals, then moral and ethical decay, as well as conflict, will be inevitable. Our own present-day era, irrespective of where one lives in the world, attests to this fact, since due to education, mass-media, mass-consumerism and so forth, have instilled within every culture the cult of the individual who pursues their personal wants or desires. And who asserts their “rights” without thought of others, quite often irresponsibly, and to the detriment of other individuals and society in general.
Philosophers in ancient Greece and China, would examine this cult of the individual, and seek to postulate an idea or guiding principle, that could reign in the dangers of “freedoms without responsibilities” and excessive individualism. Out of this discourse the word ιδιώτης, which means “individual”, also gave us the word “idiot”; because those very same philosophers observed that whoever sought to pursue their own ends without thought of others, or tried to isolate and cut themselves off from their share of responsibility and need to contribute to humanity’s well-being; as well as suppressing the innate gregarious nature of human character which finds fulfilment, meaning and purpose within human relationships, was a fool. Furthermore, unlike the philosophers of the European Enlightenment and the later ideologues of the 19th and 20th centuries, these ancient philosophers recognised that due each person’s own limitations and imperfections, there could never exist the so-called “super-person” who is entirely autonomous, independent and self-sufficient. Even those ancient thinkers who subscribed to the notion of anthropocentricism, that is, that the human person is the measure of all things, did not suffer from such a delusion as epitomised by phrases like “I think therefore I am”, or Nietzsche’s concept of the “super-man”.
Isolation, Loneliness, Indifference & Ignorance
It is therefore not surprising, that when a group of youths who were arguing over what was the greatest problem afflicting the world, whether hunger, war or poverty, confronted the same query to a very elderly and wise priest, he simply responded by citing that loneliness was the key to all these afflictions. The youths were puzzled but intrigued by the priest’s response, to which the priest then qualified his statement by citing that if we stopped to listen, speak or see the plight of our fellow man, then hunger or poverty would not exist to its present extent. Conflicts on the other hand, would be resolved a lot more quickly, because we would have direct face-to-face contact with our fellow man. And that when we are in such direct contact, we are less likely to be indifferent to their circumstances, but by necessity have to respond. As to whether this response is negative or positive, it would at least destroy ignorance or indifference towards our neighbour, because there would exist the dialogue of presence between the differing parties. Hence for example, the poor man starving in the street would not go unnoticed, but would either be fed, acknowledged with a greeting, or if the passer-by was a malevolent person, heap abuse upon the poor man. In either case the poor man’s plight was acknowledged, and could easily be spoken of by the passer-by to another person who might go to offer help.
Such a scenario is far better than the false oasis people artificially create for themselves cut off from others in the pursuit of self-indulgence and comfort. According to many Church Fathers, this isolationism creates a false reality that has as its centre the “self-worship” of the individual who gives free reign to all their sinful whims. They also cite, that isolationism and indifference towards the other, is one of the hallmark characteristics of the devil, who cuts himself away from communion with God and all the angels, in order to pursue a selfish agenda. Thus, it is not coincidental, that people are at their most vulnerable, depressed, bored and easily manipulated, when they are isolated, left to their own thoughts, and ensconced within their private reality. Under such circumstances a person eventually does things contrary to their well-being, because they do not have the alternate perspective, presence, or support of another person to prevent such developments or challenge their thought process.
From a spiritual perspective, this is what the devil preys upon and encourages people to follow in his ways of self-destruction as one of his titles “δίαβολος” (diabolos/diabolical) reveals. As an anti-social being full of evil and spite, his objective is to isolate us from others, prey upon our weaknesses, tempt us to fall into a permanent cycle of sin; whereby we distance ourselves from reality and our neighbour, become indifferent to the things of life, and in time lose hope. Hence bringing us to the point of despair and unbelief, this is the ultimate aim of the devil, in order to tempt us and push us into the abyss of self-destruction. Consider that when we do something wrong, we try our best to hide it from the scrutiny of others, who quite correctly direct us to proper conduct. Yet we as people, continue to perform most of our sins when in isolation and preferably in the dark of night.
Socio-Economic & Political Perspectives
From a socio-economic and political point of view, the “individualisation” of society or community, is a most effective method in dividing and diluting people power, that allows virtually the complete control and manipulation of each person. In such a manner the powers that be, can easily tread upon the rights of a person, microchip them and coerce them into virtual slavery, since every person as individuals is out for themselves, and ignorant of their neighbour’s plight, or are unwilling and indifferent to come to another person’s aid. Put more simply, as self-absorbed autonomous individuals, who cannot see beyond our own “reality”, we are hence placed into conflict with other peoples through the attainment of our competing needs or desires. Thus making it virtually impossible or extremely difficult for people to congregate and form communities. Yet, against the odds, people in today’s world still manage to form groups or communities.
However, multiculturalism in certain countries, is used as a most effective weapon to promote such disunity within society and dilute the existence of any clear majority holding sway, through the creation of multiple minorities and interest groups. In this way of “segmentation”, should one group or individual raise their voice and go contrary to the wishes of the powers that be, then that power would bestow benefits upon another group or stir it against those who oppose their agenda. This of course in political parlance is known as sectarianism, and is only possible to exist when people do not believe that they are their brother’s keeper or responsible for his well-being, but continue on their life-long journey like the priest and the levite.
Nevertheless, this is not to say that we should subsume or override the concerns and interests of the individual, for that would take us to the other extreme which historically has produced tribal and mob mentalities that were exploited for evil. Did not our Saviour be unjustly delivered up to His Crucifixion by an incited mob who gave assent to the Sanhedrin’s illegal and evil deliberations? Did not fascist, communist and totalitarian regimes ignore and trespass against the value of the individual person and their rights on the pretext of the “greater good” or the “common interest”? These things are facts by which we can examine in our own time, but the parable’s principles remains the same, we are all interconnected with one another and have a responsibility to each other. Yet our differences and uniqueness remain respected and intact, and not destroyed by the other.
Meditations Upon The Parable & Present-Day Significance
The man who fell victim to thieves, was not barred from travelling to Jericho, even if it was not the smartest of moves to make. Nor was that same man asked to denounce his culture or his religion by the Samaritan, in exchange for receiving help. No one compelled the priest or the levite to continue upon their journey with indifference, or to stubbornly abhor the spirit of the Law in favour of adherence to its letter and ritual. Thus the parable teaches us the need for communal responsibility and love, while at the same time teaching us the need and importance of respecting the other. As well as teaching us that the Laws of God apply to everyone and does not discriminate between differing peoples as lesser or greater beings, or as believer or unbeliever and so forth. Every person must be a practitioner of God’s directive of the Law of love and the Law of mercy, as well as being entitled and eligible recipients of these graces.
Therefore, to an Orthodox Christian perspective, any belief or ideology which seeks to impose such artificial distinctions and discriminations, is both a blasphemy and offence to God and Creation. And those who advocate such an affront, are the most accursed beings for failing to recognise and respect the divine image which God had implanted within each of us. If there are financial crises, social turmoil, political upheavals, war, poverty or hunger, it is because we fail to adhere to the principles of the Good Samaritan, which is, that there exists a personalised relationship of intercommunion between all peoples.
From a theological and spiritual perspective this is by virtue of the fact that there is only one Creator God who is the Father of all of us. And for believers, there is an even closer bond, because of being baptised in the same baptism, and sustained by the same Eucharist, which reminds us of our calling and responsibility towards our fellow neighbour, whether believer or unbeliever. Thus how can we say that we love God who we have not seen, while hate our neighbour who we have seen, for if we do something against another, we are doing it against God also.
The ministry of the Messiah is not one about worldly glory and power as many sects of Judaism have interpreted, advocated or promoted, nor the fantasies of secularised Jews that created the comic-book and Hollywood super-heroes with super-powers. But the Messiah comes in the same humble manner of the Old Testament Prophets, and in the spirit of the Mosaic Law, not its “interpretations” or “literal letter” as the Talmud seeks to distort.
The Messiah condescended to our created and finite human level in order to personally commune with humanity, to grow up like us, weather the same issues of life, in order to solidify a direct relationship with each and every one of us. In simple terms, to be face-to-face with us, this subsequently sets the tone of human engagements with one another. That is, the face-to-face responsibility and reciprocal relationship with one another. A personal relationship which I should cite, is being broken within our own times, by many variables such as “mass-communication” which has “de-faced” and “de-personalised” our interactions. We no longer physically see each other, nor do we feel bound to respect others, or to be exposed and compassionate to another’s plight. It is now easier to commit transgressions against one another for self-gain or spite, because we can get away with it easier and somewhat anonymously; for with the “personal touch” we were more hesitant and less likely to sin against our neighbour. Consequently, our present day scenario leads to the inevitable shift within human character to become self-absorbed and concentrate upon gratifying our own pathoi irrespective of the consequences towards the neighbour we no longer see, but still remains another image of God.
To the genuine Orthodox Christian, the parable’s teaching for showing compassion or generosity to another, or being attuned to their plight or concerns, is not just a matter of being a “good person”, but is showing respect to God’s fellow creations who bears the same divine image and the same right to free-will as we do. And that respect is a life-long ministry that is the means of manifesting God’s love within the world, as well as glorifying God. Yet since we are now a mere collection of depersonalised individuals, herded like cattle as the Talmud and the New World Order advocates seek to form us into, so that we live in a virtual, depressed and lonely reality divorced from each other and ignorant of one another. Otherwise, had we not entered such a lonely reality, we would have fed the hungry, clothed the naked and so forth. Therefore our world is in need of hearing the Parable of the Good Samaritan as a reminder, so as to inspire and witness physical examples of its teachings within our present world; for words are many and actions are too few. But it is action that validates the words and reveals the true human person from the parasitical scum of the earth.
We dedicate this article to the true philanthropists of this world and the virtually tireless persons who serve in the emergency services of every nation. If it were not for you, the world would truly be a more painful and tortured place. I would also like to dedicate this article to Phaweng, Edward and especially to Tercia who strive to secure supporters and financing for the difficult work that the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) does in the many places of crises. –VM
Appendix: Comments of Blessed Bishop Theophylact of Ochrid
I felt it would be a shame to not include the inspired words of this wise and humble Church Father whose commentaries upon Scripture are some of the most beautiful works of “complex simplicity” and sublimity which were written for the Biblical education of the “common man”. Even after the passing of many centuries, the simplicity of the words and comprehensibility of the explanations come through the excellent translations done by Chrysostom Press.
Unfortunately, the work of organisations, like Chrysostom Press, is usually not recognised nor well-funded, and so they struggle to remain afloat and continue their noble effort. And we should remember that it was the study and translations of many ancient and medieval works of science, theology, mathematical and philosophical thought which has brought about our modern world and the advances made in all fields of human endeavour, thus improving the standard of living for many while broadening their opportunities.
From the Orthodox Christian spiritual aspect, it would help do away with the need of people in the English-speaking world who try to reinvent the wheel with respects to Orthodox Christian literature, and instead inspire fresh and new thought drawn from a living and continuous tradition. Too much “home-spun” rubbish is written, and usually by persons whose own spiritual formation is still questionable or immature. In any case the translation of such works like the Blessed Theophylact’s Scriptural commentaries and other such works, would help put us in touch with an alternate view to our own present reality.
Therefore we need to support and promote sound translation efforts, because it is a great crime against humanity and civilisation, to not have access to the many gems of spirituality, theology and philosophy which as yet have been translated into a modern-day language for use. Nevertheless I will leave you to read a few select thoughts and meditations of our blessed father, Bishop Theophylact of Ochrid, upon the gospel narrative of the Parable of the Good Samaritan:
“He [the lawyer]comes to put the Lord to the test, and he imagined that he would trip the Lord by the answer which He gave. But the Lord leads him to the very law of which the lawyer boasted such great knowledge. See how precisely the law commands us to love God. Man is more perfect than all other created things, being in some respect like all created things, but in addition to having something exceptional.
For example, there is a part of man that is like stone, for he has hair and nails which are unfeeling, like a stone. And he is also in part like a plant, in that he grows and is nourished and engenders his own kind, just as plants do. He is in part like the irrational animals, in that he has emotions, and becomes angry, and desires. But unlike all other animals, he is also in part like God, in that he has a mind. Therefore the law teaches that man must give each and every part of himself entirely to God, and must expend all the forces of his life in loving God.
When the law says, with all my heart, it speaks of that force of human life that is purely physical and organic, a force likewise present in plant life. When the law says, with all thy soul, it speaks of that force of human life which feels, a force likewise present in animals. When the law says, with all thy mind, it speaks of that power which is unique to man, the intellect. With all thy strength means that we must use all these powers to pull [our stubborn selves to God]. We must harness even the organic, plant-like force of our soul to the love of Christ. How? With strength, and not faint-heartedly. And we must also subject with strength, the power of all our senses to the love of Christ.
And the power of our rational soul, this too we must subject with all our strength to the love of Christ. So then, we must give all of ourselves to God, and we must subject our biological powers, our sensory powers, and our intellectual powers to the love of God. And thy neighbour as thyself; The law was not yet able to teach perfection on account of the spiritual immaturity of its listeners. Therefore the law urged a man only to love his neighbour as himself. But Christ taught man to love one’s neighbour more than oneself. For He says, Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Therefore He says to the lawyer, Thou hast answered right. Since you are still subject to the law, you have answered correctly, for your thoughts are in accordance with the old law.”
 Cross reference – Deuteronomy 6:5
 Cross reference – Leviticus 19:18
 Regretfully it was this “innovation” of doctrine and tradition from which modern day Judaism traces its origins to and not to the venerable heritage of ancient Judaism of the Torah, Law and Prophets, but to the blasphemous false supplementary teachings attached to this heritage as encapsulated by the Talmudic tradition and its preachers of hatred, deceit and debauchery!
 This of course is a reference to the role God plays in bestowing eternal life each and every one of us, which is through the ministry of the Messiah.
 Pathoi are the negative passions, personal whims, wants and desires.
 And I will go on record before my fellow Greeks, in raking them over the coals for not dedicating themselves to the study and translation of the innumerable works of ancient and Byzantine writers, so that they and the world can benefit. Dearly beloved compatriots, Greek is your language, and you have the resources, lecturers and texts at your disposal to do something that can enrich you in every respect, including financial. It is no use waxing lyrical about how our forebears were so enlightened or “living off” their contribution to human civilisation without having learnt their wisdom or building upon its legacy…What are we doing today? Too many shoddy translations come out of Greece of even modern-day Greek writers and thinkers, let alone our ancient and Byzantine forebears. Instead this immense and difficult work of translations you allow to be done by Non-Greeks who are not exposed or conversant entirely in the subtle nuances of your culture, mindset or language, and the major centres of Hellenic studies are to be found beyond your borders. Everything my dear brethren, cannot continue to always fall to the dedicated few willing to do something, that’s how the politicians secured their power by crushing the few who stood in their way, sold out the country, and sent you into poverty. Therefore less time putting each other down, fewer words, more actions and less time at those demon-possessed nightclubs that tourism and xenomania has brought to the country and start being what the Lord called you to be, as cited by the Prophet Isaiah, the evangelists and enlighteners of the world. It is time to stop trying to be “Europeans” and “Americans” and to start being yourselves and speak with your own voice, because as one who dwells in the diaspora, I can tell you, that you are neither heard nor respected by many peoples and nations. And yet you throw your culture away and substitute it for counterfeit imports and speak according to a foreign voice which has betrayed you many times from the Crusades till the present…..Consider this, is it coincidental that a financial crisis has come about the same time that the exploitation of the nation’s natural mineral wealth is occurring? Who is going to benefit, or more precisely, how is Greece going to repay the supposed debts it has acquired?