Bringing the Text to Life
Asking people to personally identify with the story of the Good Samaritan is a little like asking all the children of a picnic-time softball team what position they would like to play. Just as surely as you are going to end up with nine pitchers, you will find yourself with a congregation full of hypothetical Samaritans.
Very few of us will voluntarily choose to identify with the priest or the Levite or the helpless wounded man lying at the side of the road. Even though we may readily admit that we fail to behave as the Samaritan on any consistent basis in our lives, he is still the figure is this story that we feel should house our own identity.
Arthur C. McGill, at the time of his death, was Professor of Divinity at Harvard Divinity School. In his posthumous book, Death and Life (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1987), completed by his wife, McGill suggests that this preferred identity has its roots in a deeper spiritual problem. McGill believes that many of us are caught up in a...