My friend Aaron and I were enjoying some steak quesadillas at our favorite taco spot when a very dirty man walked in. I immediately decided he was homeless and was hoping to get some food. Both of us kept our eyes fixed down as he walked by our table, which was laden with enough authentic Mexican food to celebrate a modest quinceanera.
He sat down a few tables behind us, took off his dirty beanie and stared around the restaurant. Feeling convicted and disgusted with myself for judging him, I decided I should buy him a burrito.
I stood up and began walking over to him. I saw he was wearing a blue work suit that had blotches of grease and dirt and a frightening thought came to mind. I walked straight past him and then grabbed a bottle of Tabasco sauce off another table and sat back down.
I explained to Aaron, who was confused by my lack of follow-through, that I was concerned he wasn’t actually homeless. He was probably just dirty. I was worried he would be offended if I assumed he needed me to buy him food.
As I watched the hungry man leave, I felt like I had missed my chance. I could have been the Good Samaritan, but instead I was the Priest who passed by because he convinced himself that the beaten up man wasn’t actually beaten up, he just looked beaten up.
Through the window, I could see the man jumping into the dumpster in the parking lot, clearing up any of my unfounded suspicions of whether or not he needed food.
I told myself, “He is eating trash because you are a jerk.”
I went to the front and ordered a giant steak burrito, the most expensive item on the menu. As I stood waiting for the food, I kept looking back so as not to lose the man.
Trying to limit the amount of trash he would have to eat, I hurried over the dumpster, but he wasn’t there.
I knew it. He was an angel. This had been a test from God. But instead of entertaining angels, I was leaving them to eat trash.
Aaron laughed at this suggestion and told me I was getting way too upset over this. “He’s wasn’t an angel, he was a hobo.”
“But he just disappeared,” I argued.
But right then, across the parking lot, there was a loud sound. The “angel” had moved and thrown open another dumpster lid. “Oh Great!” I said enthusiastically and began walking over to the man, ready to display my neighborly love.
Aaron advised me to drive over, just to be safe.
“Would you like a burrito? I have an extra!” I offered in an overly happy tone.
“What?” He barked.
I held up foil wrapped meal up and smiled. “I have a burrito if you want it.”
His face turned from skeptical to very angry.
“No I don’t want your d— burrito.” He yelled. “Are you trying to poison me? Did you poison that g—– burrito?”
With wide eyes, I began mumbling nonsensical assurances that the burrito was not poisonous.
He screamed, “To hell with your burrito. I want your car” and jumped out of the dumpster.
As he lunged at my passenger side door handle, I launched the burrito out the open window and hit him in the face. Using this distraction, I shifted into drive and peeled out the parking lot, leaving the man on the ground screaming profanities at me.
Aaron, who witnessed this interaction from a distance, asked, “Did you seriously just throw the burrito at his face?”
“He’s not an angel,” I cried hysterically. “Angels don’t use the F-word.”
As Aaron and I drove away, I tried to unpack what had just happened. I was supposed to be the Good Samaritan. And he was supposed to be blown away by my grace and love. But instead, I almost got attacked
I voiced this complaint and after some silence, Aaron said something harsh.
I knew he was right. In my mind, my good deed was only good if the man recognized my altruism. I wasn’t loving the stranger; I was trying to prove my own righteous compassion.
The Good Samaritan, unlike me, just helped the man who needed it. And it worked out for him. But even if the parable had ended in the Good Samaritan being assaulted, he still would have done the right thing.