It's one of the most widely known and beloved stories in all of holy writ and it's told by none other than the Savior, Jesus Christ himself. The parable of The Good Samaritan began when a lawyer asked how he could inherit eternal life. The scriptures stated that one should love God with all his heart, and love his neighbor as he loves himself, so the lawyer asked, Who is my neighbor? ? The Lord responded;
A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of raiment, and wounded him and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,
And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. ? Luke 10:30–36
Then the Lord asked, “Which of these three… was neighbor unto him that fell among the thieves?” When the lawyer answered, “He who shewed mercy on him”, the Lord commanded “Go, and do thou likewise.”
It's a wonderful story illustrating the need for compassion and pure love for our fellowmen, despite nationality, race, religion, or any other status that sometimes divide us.
In an effort to reach out to the greater community and be of service, one of the women in our congregation started a community service group. This particular woman happens to be one of the sweetest, most sincere and most Christlike women I have ever known.
Under her direction, many women have come together to provide, among other things: entertainment and fellowship for the elderly in nursing homes, Bible stories and crafts for children in a homeless shelter, interfaith giving of meals, clothing, baby needs, supplies and fellowship at a home for unwed teenage mothers and interfaith choral concerts.
In the greater Kansas City area, City Union Mission is the most widely known, if not the largest organization dedicated to helping the city's homeless, poor and down-trodden. Assisted by scores of volunteers and donations from businesses, city governments, local police and fire departments, charitable organizations, schools, churches and more, the mission provides shelter, food, clothing, counseling for drug and alcohol abuse, life skills coaching, support groups and other resources. Being Christian based, they also offer religious guidance and instruction,and happily proclaim the number of people that have turned to the Savior through their efforts and good will.
Sounds great, doesn't it? Well, that's what we thought when our community service group tried to organize an opportunity for us to share our love and concern for the many women and children that temporarily live in the shelter. But as soon as the center learned that we were from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, our offer was turned away with “We don't work with Mormons.”
Stunned, our group organizer tried to reassure the mission that we weren't going to be passing out copies of the Book of Mormon or asking them to meet with Mormon missionaries. We wanted to do crafts with the children, read books, bring art supplies for the center to keep and give encouragement to the mothers who surely had a sense of hopelessness in their current situations. The blatant response was that they didn't want us to have contact with the people! Still undaunted, (and more tolerant of irrational and un-Christian like behavior than I am) my friend asked if there was anything we could do that didn't involve direct contact and suggested that we'd could help sort through donated clothing items. Nope. Our help wasn't wanted in any way, shape or form, and I've been perplexed ever since.
Does the mission not know that there are Mormons in local city governments, on the police and fire departments that give to them? Don't they know that Mormon kids go to the schools that collect for them? Don't they know that Mormons make up a significant portion of the local Boy Scouts of America troops who also donate to them? Are they unaware of the fact that Mormons have jobs in local businesses and donate money and items through their employers to help their cause? When they figure that out will they need to throw away any dollar bill, piece of clothing or canned food item that may have had contact ? with a Mormon, just in case it was polluted with “Mormon cooties”?
Do they refuse help from our Christian brothers and sisters, the Catholics, who are also falsely accused of being cultish non-believers? Do they refuse resources from Jewish organizations, or is it just Mormons? I'm curious to discover the answer. I have the sinking feeling it's the latter.
Obviously, the center sees Mormons as “The Bad Samaritans”. But what is a Samaritan, anyway?
Samaria was an area inhabited by gentiles who were later joined by Israelites who had escaped during their time in captivity. Over the years they'd mixed and married into each other's culture and religion, “polluting” the bloodline and faith. This was abhorrent to the faithful Jew, resulting in a bitter disdain between them and Samaritans. This made the Lord's parable all the more remarkable; that someone who would normally be considered the enemy, would stop and show compassion on someone that he would normally consider his enemy.
Mormons certainly aren't comparable to Samaritans. But just to make a point, what if we were? Wasn't the moral of the Savior's story (the same Savior that the Mission claims to believe in) that we are our brother's keeper? That even a Samaritan can be a good neighbor and having a charitable heart, show Godly compassion and love? Did the Lord give any indication whatsoever that the poor, naked man left to die on the streets should have refused the help of someone he believed was a heathen?
How would that version of The Good Samaritan go?
“A certain man went down from St. Joseph to Kansas City, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of raiment, and wounded him and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain Baptist that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise an evangelical Christian, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Mormon, as she journeyed, came where he was; and when she saw him, she had compassion on him, And went to him, to bind up his wounds, feed him, clothe him and help care for his children who were left by the side of the road, crying over their wounded father.
But when the beaten traveler discovered that the compassion came from a Mormon, he cried out with a loud voice, “Get thee hence Mormon, I don't want your help.”
Interesting, because that isn't the modern-day equivalent of the story that Jesus Christ taught.