In the parable of the Good Samaritan Jesus speaks of a man who was beaten, robbed and laid on the road unconscious. A priest, followed by a Levite, came passed, looked at the man and passed on. A Samaritan, the arch enemy of Jewish people in that day stopped, checked the man out, wrapped up his wounds and took him to an inn where he paid for him to be cared for until he was well. Jesus tells this parable to answer the question “who is my neighbour?” How often do we pass by people who need God’s love and care given to them through us?
Some years ago we had a country parish in Victoria with six churches. One Sunday I was traveling back from the most southern church to pick up my family to go to the most northern church. As I was driving, dressed in my white robes, I had a sense from God that I did not need my sermon. This seemed strange to me.
We were well on our way north to the Mollongghip Church when a great ball of fire came out at us in the middle of the road. We stopped and realised that the forest on the left hand side of the road was on fire and if it crossed the road it would spread for hundreds of kilometres. I rang 000 on my new chunky mobile phone (this was a number of years ago) and let the fire brigade know we were on the Mollongghip-Springbank Road . He didn’t know where that was but would let the local fire brigade know.
An old farmer had stopped with his Ute, and we discussed the situation. I told him we had notified the fire brigade and that we needed to head on to the church service we were going to. He said that he would try to get behind the fire to see if there was anything he could do. As I was about to get in the car I saw him climbing over a fence and had this thought “what if he died in there?” I immediately took off my robes, asked my wife to go to the church to let them know what was happening.
As I reached the fence my mobile phone rang. It was the Mollongghip fire brigade. As I knew them I started to explain where we were. “We’re on the Mollonggh…” and his phone died.
I climbed over the fence and got behind the fire to help this old farmer tear down a tarpaulin that was fanning the flames. As we did this he told me that he had recently been having angina attacks. He really could have died in there! I was so glad I stayed.
Fortunately my wife had passed the fire truck at Mollongghip and told them where we were. They finally arrived. As they were putting out the fire, I headed onto the church and there was no sermon that morning.
How often do we see people that need God’s love and care given to them through us? Even though it is inconvenient, sometimes the most important thing we can do is to interrupt the busyness of our lives to help them.