These days government insists in having programs to take care of anyone that could possibly be in need of help. The natural result of all that preoccupation with the needy has resulted in a multiplication of both the number of needy people and the number of needs that have to be addressed. Programs for the needy proliferate as fast as the needy themselves. There seems to be a correlation between the growth of government and the growth of needy people. I sure wonder if government is not creating a market for its own products but I digress. Someone recently told me that his interpretation of the Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church was that actually Caesar is in charge of mending all the social ills that individuals, families, and the Church cannot address.
I thought it was time to hit the Good Book and see what it has to say about taking care of the poor and downtrodden. What better place to start than with the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Here is the parable as told by St. Luke:
Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. ‘Teacher,’ he said, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ He said to him, ‘What is written in the law? What do you read there?’ He answered, ‘You shall 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 your neighbor as yourself.’ And he said to him, ‘You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.’ But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’ Jesus replied, ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. 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.” Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?’ He said, ‘The one who showed him mercy.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.’ (Luke 10, 25-37)
Notice that the man asking Jesus is a lawyer. He wants to live forever so he asks the Master what is a lawyer supposed to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus points at the Law in a very Socratic manner. Of course the lawyer wants definitions, details, focus. You know, he is a lawyer after all. Who is my neighbor? Jesus again presents him with a familiar situation: a man has been assaulted and robbed and he is laying helpless by the side of the road. Some religious types come by but look the other way. Then comes a Samaritan. Samaritans were a despised race for the Jews of that time. The Samaritan helps this poor Jew whom his own brothers ignored and left to die. He takes good care of him and makes sure the man will be taken care of until he is well again. Ending the story Jesus asks the lawyer the same question: who do you think is this poor man’s neighbor? And the lawyer finally gets the point: the answer is not in the letter of the law but in the spirit and practice of it. The Levite and the Priest knew the Law well but they did not practice it, they did not walk by it. The Samaritan was a member of a community that had a lesser version of the same Law. For that reason his community was considered unclean by the Jews and yet it is the Samaritan who reflects more perfectly the love of God that the Law demands.
Margaret Thatcher mentioned a small but very important detail: “No one would remember the Good Samaritan if he’d only had good intentions; he had money as well.” Good point. Now I ask: who is the robber, who is the victim, and who is the good Samaritan in today’s America? Do I have an answer for that!
Since Ronald Reagan left the White House we have seen the country resume the trajectory of decadence initiated by the Johnson administration and continued more or less by all its successors perhaps with the exception of Reagan. The various welfare bureaucracies have grown to gargantuan size and now their projected expenditures threaten the existence of the once rich and prosperous United States. In our modern version of the parable the American people are being assaulted and robbed by their own government but there’s a twist: the government pretends to be the good Samaritan while getting fatter and fatter with the stolen proceeds. By the way, the number of the needy keeps on growing too as a result of the general scarcity of money that is going mostly to line the pockets of bureaucrats.
Conservatives these days are called to be good Samaritans. We have to take this America fleeced nearly to the point of death by the beastly Liberal Progressives and take care of her, nurture her, and take her into the inn until she can walk again. I am convinced that the Progressives will bankrupt the country. May be that is what it takes to kill their destructive ideology, may be this is sort of the end of the world for a way of life that is as unsustainable as it is unnatural.
Because we know the end is near we have to be prepared to rebuild America and set her in the right path again. Just like Christendom emerged from the ruins of the Roman Empire something beautiful can emerge from the impending financial collapse. It is the turn for good Conservatives to become the good Samaritans.