Jesus once told a story about Jewish man walking the desert road to Jericho who was attacked by bandits, robbed and left for dead. Three fellow Jews passed by and ignored him, and it was left to a ‘foreigner’, a Samaritan to come to his aid.
Just recently in Essen, Germany, three people were heavily fined for ignoring the plight of an elderly man who had collapsed by a bank’s cash machines, and sustained a life-threatening head injury from which he subsequently died. At trial the judge commented that “no one wanted to help”, and two of the defendants justified what they had done saying they thought the man was homeless. The prosecutor justified heavy fines saying, “the duty to help a fellow human being was blatantly violated.”
The prosecutor was right, but where does this sense of duty spring from? Perhaps from an evolutionary survival of the fittest instinct? Or perhaps from the character of God in whose image we are made, and who through the words of the prophet Isaiah said this, “Is this not the kind of fasting I have chosen… to share your food with the hungry, to provide the wanderer with shelter, to clothe the naked, and not to turn away from you own flesh and blood?”