Anna and the Good Samaritan

Anna and the Good Samaritan
I really didn’t want to go. It was way too early to get ready to go to the men’s breakfast meeting at White Memorial Presbyterian Church in Raleigh that started at 7: 00 a.m. But since the church is only about a mile from where I live and takes about two minutes to drive there, I decided to go.
                Every Tuesday, a good number of us, though I am not as regular as I should be, sit around large round tables, have breakfast the church makes for us, swap stories, as often as not about trips we have been on or whose athletic team has won what, before a relatively brief talk by one of the ministers, usually on the subject of what he or she is going to be speaking on the next Sunday.
                This time, the speaker was a young person named Anna, who is nearing the end of a two year internship with the church. Her scriptural text this day was the Parable of the Good Samaritan from the book of Luke. She read with us several verses where the lawyer asks Jesus what must he do to have eternal life.   Jesus said to the lawyer “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
                The lawyer then asked, “And who is my neighbor?”
                And so begins the Parable of the Good Samaritan, where the man was going from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell into the hands of robbers, was beaten and stripped and left for dead. Two men, one a priest and the other a Levite, walked by but passed to the other side of the road and kept walking. But the Samaritan stopped and helped the man, bandaged his wounds and took him to an inn where he could be cared for. The Samaritan then gave the innkeeper some money to pay him for his troubles and told him he would return and settle up with him if more money was owed.
                Anna then asked all of us the question…who of these people…the lawyer, the priest, the Levite, the Samaritan, the man who was beaten or the innkeeper do we most identify with ourselves. She then ended by telling the story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s last sermon in Memphis, the night before he died when he was in town to help local garbage workers on a strike. Dr. King said the question was not what would people say about him in helping the garbage workers, but what would happen to them if he did not try to help.
                I leaned forward and remembered yet again how I felt on a cold January day in 1994 when a prison driver stopped his van, got out, came around to my side, slid open the door and offered me coffee that his wife had made that morning, and the young person who an hour or so later took my blood pressure, after rolling up my sleeve, and as she wiped away a tear from my cheek, said “you’re under a little pressure today aren’t you darling?”
                I never learned their names. But I tell this story every time I make a speech or hold a seminar. I always believe that the way to get passion back in your life or feel good about yourself is simply to be nice to someone who will never know your name.
                All of this I experienced just for the price of walking into a men’s breakfast meeting and listening to Anna.

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