Saturday, July 20, 2013



Classic Picture of the Good Samaritan
Last Sunday, July14, the gospel reading was the story of the Good Samaritan. I reflected for a couple of days on this familiar story using the insight of a famous French painter, Delacroix. The image we usually see of this story is that of the compassionate Samaritan kneeling and bending solicitously over the hapless victim, gently pouring oil and wine on the man’s wounds. It’s a nice picture.

Eugene Delacroix's "Good Samaritan"
  Too nice, thought the painter Eugene Delacroix. He did an alternative painting of the scene, showing the moment when the Good Samaritan is struggling mightily to lift the inert body of the victim onto his donkey. Did you ever try to hoist a body over your head? The Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh was so inspired by this painting that he did his own version of the scene.

Vincent Van Gogh's Version

These alternative depictions of the parable, with their emphasis on how hard it must have been for the Samaritan, speak a wise truth to any Christian who wants to help others: Sometimes helping someone involves sweat and struggle on the part of the helper. In other words, if you want to be about helping others, you had better be prepared: You may be in for a heavier lift than you bargained for!

I pray that the Lord who calls me to be compassionate to others will be nearby to lend a hand when that body gets too heavy to lift all by myself.

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