Modern Samaritans
Image: Ray Chen Smith / Flickr

During the 1980s, I met a Hispanic woman at a Los Angeles airport. She had come to the United States from Cuba five years earlier. I asked her what she liked about her new country. She readily mentioned the many things she enjoyed. Freedom and opportunity were highest on her list. Then I asked her what she didn'tlike about her life in this country. She adamantly said, "I don't like being called a Mexican," revealing feelings of being devalued. She was surprised when I informed her that I am of Mexican descent and born Mexican-American. She then added, " Oh, but I see you are not like one of them!"

What did she see? In a short time, the woman had unintentionally, yet incorrectly, categorized herself and other Hispanics in this country. Our short conversation revealed that Hispanics are not all the same and pointed to the need for a better understanding of the realities and subtleties of racial and ethnic diversity. However, what this woman missed was her own collective identity as a new American citizen—she is now a Cuban-American.

A Life in the Hyphen

The story of Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4) epitomizes his commitment to change the lot of those living an in-between existence. The Samaritans, being both Jew and Gentile, were the half-breeds or mestizos of the time. Despite strong historical, cultural, and religious taboos, Jesus speaks with the woman. His disciples, carriers of the dominant Jewish tradition, are numbed, indifferent and both literally and figuratively "out to lunch" during this prophetic encounter. Meanwhile, Jesus affirms the woman's personhood and leads her to faith in him. She, in turn, spreads the good news of the Gospel ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

May
Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
Read These Next
Current IssueNew & Noteworthy Books
New & Noteworthy Books Subscriber Access Only
Compiled by Matt Reynolds.
Current IssueBearing Burdens After Obamacare
Bearing Burdens After Obamacare Subscriber Access Only
The future of Christian health care sharing.
Recommended
John Piper: I Was RacistSubscriber Access Only
How the pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church went from a self-described racist to an adoptive father of an African American. An excerpt from 'Bloodlines.'
TrendingForgiveness: Muslims Moved as Coptic Christians Do the Unimaginable
Forgiveness: Muslims Moved as Coptic Christians Do the Unimaginable
Amid ISIS attacks, faithful response inspires Egyptian society.
Editor's PickTogether for the Gospels
Together for the Gospels: Unprecedented Unity Among Bible Translators Transforms Giving
Lessons learned from illumiNations initiative could help other causes.
Christianity Today
Modern Samaritans
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

May 2013

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.