Monday, September 26, 2016

Who is the Good Samaritan?

Recently in a Peace Weekly column, a university professor mentions the news item in which passengers in a taxi going to the airport for an overseas  golf trip, left the taxi when the driver on the trip lost consciousness and died. The passengers intent on making their flight took their golf bags and  left the taxi and the driver to  continue on to the  airport and their flight.

When this news was spread by the mass media the parliament proposed that the Good Samaritan  Law on the books be amended. When a person can be helped and help is not offered you are liable to punishment of one year in prison and a fine of about 3,000 dollars.  The intent of the law was to help form a more desirable society. An internet  survey showed  the majority of the citizens were in favor of the law.

The professor sees some problems with the law. First of all, it is against the principle of  proportionality. Quoting some lawyers he says it is excessive punishment. If there is not an immediate connection with a crime then there is not to be a penalty. This is contrary to  the principle of liability with fault. Many also see the tendency to legislate a  person's religious beliefs into law.

However, the professor's biggest problem is none of the above but sees it as a misunderstanding of the meaning of the parable in Luke's Gospel 10: 25-27. Jesus tells the teacher of the law that the main point of the law is to love your neighbor as yourself. The  teacher of the law questions: "Who is my neighbor?" Here  Jesus gives us the parable of the Good Samaritan.

Jesus is telling the teacher of the law not to ask who is the neighbor but you be the neighbor. The Good Samaritan teaching does not fit the case of those  going to the airport. The way the law can be understood is that you can penalize those who are not your neighbor. Those that treat you well become  your neighbor and the others are not. This is not the understanding of the parable of the Good Samaritan.

With this understanding of the parable are we   bettering society? In the parable of the Good Samaritan are the Levite and the priest, not our neighbor? And those going to the airport who weren't concerned with the taxi driver: are they not also our neighbor? We know how Jesus would answer.