THE story is a familiar one. Traveling between Jerusalem and Jericho, a man is robbed and beaten, then left to die by the roadside. A priest and a Levite pass by. Neither is willing to become involved. Still, someone stops to bind up the victim's wounds, shelters him in an inn, and pays for his lodgings. It is a foreigner disdained by the parable's audience, a Samaritan. Christ Jesus' parable, recorded in Luke's Gospel, is a lesson in true neighborliness. It reminds us that our neighbor is anyone in need. But it also assures us that should we, like the traveler, ever be in distress and abandoned, our needs will still be met. This is true even if obvious avenues of aid fail. In fact, the reliability of the ministering love represented by the Samaritan becomes even more clearly visible when we see that it is not human help that we depend on to meet our needs, but God.
Jesus taught that God cherishes every part of His creation. The real man actually comes from God, from divine Love. This means that no one can ever be separated from the provision he or she may need. Neither can that loving care be separated from its source, which is divine. And it is the very nature of divine Love to impel each of its children to express that tender care. So help is always at hand.
I found this out in a very practical way when someone I thought of as a good friend turned away from me at a time when I was in serious need. I felt anxious and forsaken. No one else seemed close enough to turn to for help.
The parable of the Samaritan reminded me that our needs are supplied whether or not like-minded individuals respond. My well-being seemed to me to rest on those with whom I had close or longstanding relationships. Yet in truth, I was God's own child, upheld by Love. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, writes tenderly in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, ``Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need.'' I saw that, in the most profound sense, the needs that seemed so urgent and unmet to me were already being met by God, divine Love. I reasoned that this must mean that any care I might require would be received as the result of someone's being divinely impelled to give.
Soon there was heartwarming evidence of God's great love. Acquaintances offered aid and became firm friends. A lapsed relationship was warmly and supportively renewed. Someone I had made a slight contact with years before proved as generously helpful as the Samaritan himself. In humility I saw that some of these were individuals with whom I might previously have thought I had little in common -- I might myself have passed them by in the daily routine. Yet they were the ones who compassionately cared for my needs.
We can rest assured that the compassion represented by the Samaritan is ever available to meet our need. Our care for each other is naturally born of our love for God. In fact, Jesus told the parable to illustrate this command: ``Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.''
No one can be shut out of this loving care. It is God Himself who moves us to love Him. In our awakened love for Him we find a quickened desire to care for each other. It is our authentic, God-given selfhood that compels us to love God and one another. So everyone's need for loving care can be met. Of His love we all are made.