Recently, the reading in church was from Luke’s gospel where Jesus shared the parable of the Good Samaritan. When I reflect on this lesson, I think about how I can be a better neighbor to those around me. I think about times I could have let someone go ahead of me in line, stopped to listen, offered encouragement to someone, or engaged in conversation with the grocery store clerk or the person bagging my purchases. This time, I stopped to think about the definition of the neighbor referenced as "the one" in the phrase, “The one who had mercy on him."
Mercy is defined as “showing compassion to someone whom it is within one’s authority to punish or harm.” At the Ranch, we define our work, spiritually, as “mercy care.” But, the Ranch does not have the authority to harm or punish anyone. I started wondering if we are using the word “mercy” incorrectly in our work?
And then I remembered another quote that I think dovetails perfectly with the parable. “The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members.” That quote has been variously attributed to Mahatma Gandhi, Pearl Buck, Hubert Humphrey, and others. Truthfully, I don’t care who said it the first time… it is true. When a society exists, it has power. It can treat the weakest within it – like the children at the Ranch – with disdain and disgust and hurt them over and over. Or, it can establish and support the work of organizations – like the Ranch and many others – as a measure of compassion and true mercy.
I believe the fact that the Ranch exists, and that good people in our society support the work that lifts up these vulnerable children, means at our core we strive to be good neighbors. I choose to believe that given a choice, most people will see the pain buried under the children's behaviors and help them to heal. I believe our hearts and brains are designed to show mercy.
At Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch, we are grateful to represent the mercy of our society to these wonderful, vulnerable, "neighbor" children.
In His love,
Joy Ryan, President/CEO
Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch
Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers? The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him."
Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise." Luke 10:36-37