On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” He answered, “‘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.’” “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” In reply Jesus said: A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” (The Parable of the Good Samaritan, Luke 10:25-37)
Kyriakos is a Greek coast guard captain. Since 2015, he has rescued thousands—fleeing war and terror with nothing but the clothes they wear—from rubber rafts. On one trip, a would-be rescuer became compromised as he attempted to save a two-year old who had gone overboard. Kyriakos called ahead for an ambulance for the two who were unconscious when he fished them from the sea. When they arrived on shore, volunteers attempted to get water from the lungs of the youngster, others rendered CPR, and a woman blanketed and cradled another shivering child. Guided by his faith and kissing an icon behind his pilot’s chair, Kyriakos and his small crew returned for yet another load of people.
A 15-year old boy who loves to take pictures was aroused from sleep by conflict near his home in Syria. Grabbing his camera to capture the scene, he was arrested by government security forces. After 30 days of torture, he was released, only to be kidnapped by rebels who tortured him again for weeks. The teenager fled for his life and now attends university in Washington.
Omar and Zubair are brothers who now live in our community. Translators, who helped US military in Afghanistan, they too have left their homes and extended families to save their lives. Good Samaritans from throughout the Metro area, including St. John’s parishioners, have pitched in to provide support.
Sixty-six million refugees—the largest number since World War II—have been driven from their homes by war, torture, and persecution. Each has a different face and a different story. Each is a “neighbor” about whom Jesus spoke in the parable of the Good Samaritan. Kyriakos and those in our own community are among thousands of “Good Samaritans” who seek to fulfill Jesus’ teaching to love their neighbor.
Jesus tells us to, “Go and do likewise.” What can I do each day that will demonstrate my love of our refugee neighbors? Where am I willing to put myself at risk, like Kyriakos does each day, to serve those escaping war, torture, and persecution?
St. John’s Refugee Committee
Appointed readings for today: Joshua 5:9-12, Psalm 32, Luke 15:1-3, 11-32