A man strides through the wilderness, alone and without peer,
With steady step and focused eye and iron in his tread.
He pays no mind to obstacles that vie to keep him here.
Behind are home and family; his mission lies ahead.
With sudden, violent speed, there springs a bandit from the brush…
Beats the man, and strips him, and forsakes him to his doom,
Broken-boned, immobile in the suffocating hush,
The only sound his labored breath and screams into the gloom.
The rising sun appears, and with it scorching, searing heat,
Heralding the subtle stir of traffic on the road.
With disbelieving joy, the beaten man beholds the feet
Of a pious priest on pilgrimage, heaving a heavy load.
With cracking voice, the injured man entreats the passing friar
For transport or for healing, or for water or for bread.
But though the man’s condition is so pitifully dire,
The monk spares not a moment, even just to turn his head.
Now as the cleric’s shadow passes swiftly out of sight,
Another figure wends its way across the naked sand:
A member of the temple staff, a chosen acolyte,
A keeper of the chapel, with the Good Book in his hand.
Again the injured traveler erupts in mournful plea;
Again, the passing stranger goes abruptly on his way.
Another sainted servant, pledged to love and charity
Who fails to spare a broken, bleeding man the time of day.
The agonizing hours pass…the sun peaks in the sky,
Then starts upon its slow descent into the dusky west.
Before the final rays of waning sunlight fade and die,
They frame a silhouette upon a nearby mountain crest.
The stricken pilgrim’s eyes ignite a final, hopeful spark;
The fragile ember takes a timid hold within his soul,
Until a revelation drowns his prospects in the dark,
Stifling with a frigid shock the solitary coal.
This man is not a neighbor, not a kinsman or a friend;
Surely, this invader will with pleasure pass him by.
On any other day, the pilgrim wouldn’t condescend
To share the air this fellow breathes, or look him in the eye.
But to the crippled traveler’s amazement and surprise,
The stranger stops, leaps off his horse, and hurries to his side.
With gentle, loving hands, and with compassion in his eyes,
He heaves the beaten man onto his steed, and then they ride.
Frantically and hastily, they speed upon their way;
Mile after mile, through the wilderness they race,
Coming to an inn as darkness swallows up the day,
And through the pain, the man can feel relief upon his face.
His unexpected rescuer provides him with a bed,
Dresses all his wounds, and pays the landlord for his stay.
The traveler, who was to all the world as good as dead,
Survives, and when his injuries are healed, goes on his way.
Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”
Luke 10:36-37, ESV