Answering God – 40 Days with the Religious Society of
Day 33 – Friday after 5th Sunday of Lent
Remember your responsibilities as a citizen for the conduct of local, national, and international affairs.
Do not shrink from the time and effort your involvement may demand.
(Advices & Queries #34)
From the Scriptures:
But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbour?’ 30 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. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan while travelling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. 34 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. 35 The next day he took out two denarii,[k] gave them to the innkeeper, and said, “Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.” 36 Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?’ 37 He said, ‘The one who showed him mercy.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.’
Some may be surprised that on the Statute Books of their nation stands a law which enshrines the Parable of the Good Samaritan and citizens have a ‘Duty to Rescue’ those who are in peril. This is not the case in the United Kingdom but if someone refuses toassist a Constable in their duty, which may involve helping someone in peril, they commit an offence which carries an unlimited fine or prison sentence. In Israel the statute, called the Stand-not-idly-by-thy-neighbour’s-blood Law, even uses Leviticus 19v16 to justify their Duty to Rescue law.
It is at the same time heartening that nations’ pass these laws, but also sad that we have lost our sense of ubuntu so much that enforcement of good neighbourliness is needed.
I do not know how the current Covid-19 pandemic is affecting the community of all those who are reading these words but I can speak from my own experience here in the seaside Port town of Felixstowe. Currently I describe my daily work as being that of a drug mule (!). Each morning I queue outside my local pharmacy for up to an hour, alongside other members of the Felixstowe Helping Hands group, to collect medicines for those who are in lockdown at home and living in fear. We are a fortunate community as it seems we have a serious case of good-neighbourliness.
Are we being latter-day Good Samaritans? Perhaps. All that I know is that help is needed, I have been stood down from my usual work, and I can help in some small way. My fellow Helping Handers and I do not do this because we are natural philanthropists but because we believe that we are fortunate in being able to help others and, while we can, we should.
The Advices ask that we do not shrink from the time and effort your involvement [being a responsible citizen] may demand. Currently a worldwide evil has compelled us to be a more caring and sharing community. Once, and please may it be soon, this disease has passed will we be tempted to slip back in to our own silos and a life which (as mentioned before) has as it’s motto, ‘Blow you, I’m alright Jack’?
I am fortunate that, as a Minister of Religion, I have been set aside, and am even paid, to work for the sole benefit of others. Even, and perhaps especially, for the benefit of those who do not care for the God who cares for them. I do this with joy and with a grateful heart.
It is more difficult for the average ‘Christian in the market place’ to be as intentional or as committed to giving their lives away for others. Some do, and that is wonderful. For most, however, earning a crust and paying for a roof over their head consumes all their energies and little time remains for remembering responsibilities as a citizen for the conduct of local, national, and international affairs. In fact many people struggle to keep their own family affairs conducted well let alone local, national, and international affairs!
Being involved in the life our community involves time and effort, from which we must not shrink.
No one yet knows what sort of world we will be living in once Covid-19 is a spent force. We do know this; it will not be the same world as the one that went before. Some things about the way we live together will have gone forever. Others will be transformed and be barely recognisable. Every single member of the human race, if not infected, will be affected by this virus.
We will need to learn that we live in a wounded world and to bring healing we will have to choose to live differently.
We will need to learn to be involved as responsible citizens and enshrine the lessons we are learning during this dark time into the laws of our lands.
Perhaps now is a good time to compile a ‘wish list’ of those things that have enriched our community during this time of distress and ensure that they become part of the warp and woof of our society?
We will need to ensure that it will not take another worldwide pandemic to remind us to be Good Samaritans every day of the year and so make Jesus’ command to ‘love one another as he loved us’ our motto and our watchword.
All human beings are limbs of each other,
having been created of one essence.
When time affects a limb with pain,
The other limbs cannot at rest remain.
If thou feel not others’ misery,
A human being is no name for thee.
1) Read slowly the note from ‘Advices & Queries’ above again
2) Local elections (in the United Kingdom) have been suspended and, for the foreseeable future, our leaders are the ones we have. Whether you voted for them or not, how will you help them ‘bandage the wounds’ of those who have, ‘fallen into the hands of robbers’ in the present circumstance?
Quotes from ‘Advices & Queries’ are copyright © The Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Britain, 1995, 1997 and 2008
Scripture quotations are copyright © New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Prayers from ‘Prayers for Hard Times’ are copyright © Becca Anderson 2017
These Reflections, ‘Answering God’ are copyright © Andrew Dotchin 2020 – and may be reproduced without charge on condition that the source is acknowledged