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A Samaritan Passed By But Did Not Stop

A Samaritan traveler was moved with compassion—Luke 10:33

The Good SamaritanA long time ago, when I was in my third year of medical school, as part of my training I was assigned to a hospital located in one of the poorer neighborhoods of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

It was a hot, spring day and I was late, hurrying to be in the hospital in time for the beginning of my class. About a block from the hospital on the other side of the street I saw a man lying prone and motionless on the sidewalk. Flies were buzzing about his lower abdomen and upper thighs. Many thoughts rapidly crossed my mind. Did he have as stroke? Was he a diabetic? Did he pass out in a diabetic coma? (I had enough medical knowledge to know that the urine of a diabetic in coma is loaded with sugar and thus attractive to flies). Or was he simply intoxicated and sleeping it off?

I was in a hurry, I was late, so, I took the easy way out. I put my convenience ahead of his need for someone to come to check on him. In all probability, I decided, in that neighborhood, he was simply drunk and would soon be back on his feet after a nap.

After class, returning home I passed the spot. The man was gone. Did someone else pause, stop by and call an ambulance? Or did he wake up and go on his way again?

I never found out.

I regret not acting like the good Samaritan in the Gospel of Luke, taking the time to see if this stranger needed help, putting another’s need first and my convenience second. To this day I regret missing out on that opportunity for grace.

How often is the opportunity for grace offered us? And how often do we ignore that opportunity?

Robert Luchi