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Oil, wine, and a donkey – or not passing by on the other side

July 26, 2018

You all know the story of the Good Samaritan found in the 10th chapter of Luke in the Bible. Here’s a quick recap: in response to a question about being a neighbor, Jesus tells this story: a traveler is attacked, injured, and left for dead.  Two church workers see him but don’t stop to help. A Samaritan traveling along the same road does stop, cleans him up, transports him to an inn and pays for his care. The punchline is, he who showed mercy was the neighbor.

For lots of reasons many of us are like the ones who pass by on the other side.  We don’t want to get involved, we don’t know what to do, there is some kind of legal prohibition, we don’t have time, someone else will do it, it’s not our job, we’re afraid, and on and on and on.  We’re good people and we do good things, but we just won’t do that – whatever “that” is.

Jesus knew that tendency of human nature, which is why the story resonates with so many of us.  To be fair, many of us do stop and help – under certain circumstances.

Here’s a way that we can all be more consistent in being a neighbor: you may recall that the Samaritan used oil and wine to clean and dress the wounds of the injured man. Those words – oil and wine – have spiritual definitions, found in the Glossary of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy. She defines oil as: consecration; charity; gentleness; prayer; heavenly inspiration; and wine as: inspiration; understanding.

If we mentally bathe ourselves and others in those qualities found in the two definitions we’ll find that all of those reasons for passing by on the other side simply won’t be so compelling. Just like a tough callous responds to a good soaking in oil, a tough situation also responds to expressions of gentleness and understanding. Those mental attributes bring a natural lubrication that smooths the way to solutions perhaps thought impossible.

There isn’t a definition of donkey in the Glossary of Science and Health, but it could represent our willingness and ability to move forward to a useful resolution.  Developing an inclination to help, leaning towards having a heart prepared to give aid, opens our eyes to countless opportunities to pour in oil and wine.

This kind of mental work is not just useful in obvious situations where physical assistance is necessary.  It’s also valuable when we have political disagreements, or family upheavals, or community divisions.  If we take our oil, our wine, and our donkey with us everywhere we go – whether it’s across town or just on to Facebook, we’ll be more ready to be generous.  We’ll be more neighborly.

Jesus said to the questioner after he identified what a neighbor is, “go, and do thou likewise.”  Still good advice, don’t you think?

Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link.  If you like what you’re reading, click the “add me” button.

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