The Parable of the Good Samaritan ... and Daniel Penny

AP Photo/Sicomunicazione

There’s a big brouhaha at the moment over the reference to the Bible by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Friday while showing support for Marine veteran Daniel Penny. As you may have read in these pages, the New York man currently faces a charge of second-degree manslaughter after restraining Jordan Neely, a homeless man who was acting threateningly to subway passengers. Neely later died.


DeSantis shared his thoughts with his followers on the Twitters:


The support from the account run by the National Police Association, which has the same term “good Samaritan[s],” has also riled Twitter users. And like in Gov. DeSantis’ tweet, the police group shared the link to the GiveSendGo account for Penny’s defense.:

Here’s the problem the leftists and their hangers-on have with what DeSantis and the police group wrote: stating in plain language that Neely was a criminal, and that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg continuously acts as the criminals’ advocate—instead of for the law-abiding people of New York, as he’s sworn to do.


So, what about the term “good Samaritan” has the lefties upset? Some of them are claiming, with a jeer, that it’s twisting the biblical teaching. But, is that the case?

The parable of the good Samaritan is one of Jesus’ best known teachings, and it can be found in the book of Luke (Luke 10: 25-37 NKJV):

25 And behold, a certain [a]lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?

27 So he answered and said, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’ ”

28 And He said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.”

29 But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30 Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among [b]thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. 33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 On the next day, [c]when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’ 36 So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?”

37 And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.”

Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”


I think the people criticizing the use of “good Samaritan” are missing two important points in what Jesus said. First, there are the two others who chose not to help the man in the road. Jesus mentions them to show that it’s easy to call oneself a good person, then be a hypocrite when it counts. The men who passed by should have helped the man but didn’t for their own convenient and selfish reasons.

Then there’s the fact that parables are not meant to be taken literally. They’re a tool Jesus used to teach his followers—us—important principles. So, no, it doesn’t matter what the identity or the occupation of the Samaritan was. It also doesn’t matter the exact good deeds he did for the injured man. What matters is that he did the right thing—and did it when no one was keeping score. That is, he did good because it was the right way to treat another person. You treat him like your neighbor.

That’s exactly what Penny did. The passengers on the train were strangers to him, as far as we know. He made a choice to put himself out, to inconvenience himself, while protecting potential victims of Neely. That’s how we’re supposed to act as Christians, and God bless him for doing it.

In case you were curious, as of few hours ago, donations for Penny had reached almost $780,000:


At the time of this writing, the number stands at $1.2 million and change—and it just keeps rising. Penny isn’t the only good Samaritan around our nation, it seems. There’s something everyone can do, though, regardless of their circumstances: Add your prayers to mine for his total exoneration from this farce of a charge by Bragg’s office.


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