The Bad Priest

A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. (Luke 10:31 “The Good Samaritan”)

In July, as I was just about to enter the intersection with my car, a sight came into my view.  In the middle of the intersection on the right, there was a car rolled over with its windshield and roof facing toward my car.  The accident had just happened, and many people waiting for the green light were taking pictures on their mobile phones.  The police had not yet arrived, and traffic also had not been controlled, but there was no sign of people in the car involved in the accident.  It seemed that they had already evacuated somewhere.  May cars were slowing down as they passed; and the car in front of me, as it was passing the vehicle involved in the accident, made a strange motion.  It hit its brakes suddenly, and further slowed down its speed, and passed the car with its hazard lights on.  Immediately afterwards, it seemed for a moment that it was going towards the shoulder of the road, but the car went back to the center of the road and drove off. 

I was frightened by the inexplicable action of the car in front of me, and though feeling anxious, slowed down my car as I passed the car involved in the accident.  As I got a glance at the accident vehicle, I was startled to find out the reason behind that inexplicable action.  Only the two inflated airbags came into sight, but they were moving.  “People are still inside!!”  At that moment I thought, “I need to help them!” and stepped on my brakes.  I slowed down my car for a couple of meters to pull my car aside.  However, my thought had changed within these few seconds.  “It will cause a major traffic congestion.  There’s nothing I can do alone.  The police will be here any minute, and they’ll safely rescue the people.”  So, I got back to the center of the road lane and continued to drive.  I told myself, “I have an interment ceremony to go to, and I can’t be late for it.”   

In the parable of the “Good Samaritan,” it tells each one of us to “go and do likewise (*as the Good Samaritan).” (Luke 10:37, (*added by the writer)) However, the reality of us who are told to be good Samaritans, does not go as hoped.  Rather, isn’t our reality the repetition of the passers-by such as the priests and the Levite passing by on the other side of the victims?  I am a priest the same as the priest who had “passed by on the other side.”  I thought as I looked at myself, “Did the priest and the Levite who had passed by on the other side regret just like myself?  Did they convince themselves with excuses?”

“The important thing is not becoming a good Samaritan from scratch, but by regretting and repenting from the negatives as priests and Levites to be transformed into a good Samaritan.  That is the incarnation of the Word rooted in our reality.”  To be reborn from regret.  Were the priest and the Levite, who had passed by on the other side of the road, able to change?  Isn’t it the great hope for us as sinners to believe in that change?

Revd Joseph Daisuke Shimohara
Nagoya St. Matthew’s Church