“25 Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. Â‘Teacher,Â’ he said, Â‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?Â’ 26He said to him, Â‘What is written in the law? What do you read there?Â’ 27He answered, Â‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.Â’ 28And he said to him, Â‘You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.Â’ 29But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, Â‘And who is my neighbor?Â’ 30Jesus replied, Â‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. 31Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. 34He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, Â“Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.Â” 36Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?Â’ 37He said, Â‘The one who showed him mercy.Â’ Jesus said to him, Â‘Go and do likewise.Â’”
I have been dealing with how to be a Christian hospital chaplain in a multi-faith ministry since beginning CPE. I have come to some sense of what feels somewhat comfortable, but still wrestle with this issue. To some degree, the issue has been moot because most of the patients I have encountered have been Christian. With a couple particular exceptions, I have had very good conversations dealing with their beliefs. My role has been more an inquisitive inquirer rather than giver of pastoral care (at least it seems this way), although in one particular example the patient seems invigorated by explaining his beliefs and the deep meaning he feels.
I can be, and really should be, however, in the hospital to ease the pain and help dissuade the fear and anxiety that some patients feel. While I may not be able to be about Â“the cure of soulsÂ” as I conceive of the ancient concept, I can ease their fear or loneliness. This will not apply to every patient, obviously. I can be of help with patients in the same way I can help feed the poor or cloth the naked. I can show the person that there are those in the world who do care.
This approach further demonstrates to me that this is not my ministry, but that is beside the point. All of us who claim Christ, and I can only speak for Christians, should be as was the Good Samaritan Â– helping the stranger when few others will. The patient is the stranger; we are the Samaritan. We should all be like the sheep at judgment Â– doing that which is loving and compassionate to our neighbors and not knowing nor caring whom that person may be to the point where we do not even realize what we are truly doing. (Matthew 25:31-46)