“He went to him and bandaged his wounds. . . .”
— Luke 10:34
A well-known proverb helps us think about different ways to respond to poverty: “Give a person a fish, and they will eat for a day. Teach them how to fish, and they will eat for a lifetime.” Both approaches can be appropriate, depending on the circumstances and whether they involve short-term or long-term needs.
In the parable of the good Samaritan, Jesus illustrates the “give a fish” model. The Samaritan responds compassionately and generously to the immediate needs of the wounded traveler. He bandages the man’s wounds and doesn’t concern himself, for now, with whether the roadway should have better security!
Sometimes a bandage is what is needed. When winter temperatures in our city plunge far below freezing and homeless shelters beg for mittens and socks, that’s a need calling for an immediate solution. Similarly, when a cyclone tears up a community in Bangladesh and people are left homeless and without food and water, short-term relief is vital for saving lives.
I thank God for the generosity of people everywhere who respond to needs that arise from natural disasters. And yet bandages, while necessary, are temporary. Compassion for the poor and a commitment to overcome poverty can require more.
Lord, like the Samaritan, we long to show love to our neighbors in need. Help us to be generous and wise in the opportunities you present to us. In Christ, Amen.