By Linda Tancs

In literature, heroes are often extraordinary, supernatural—they save people, or even the whole world. For us mere mortals, hero status seems implausible or inaccessible except for those special instances that make the news. The reality, though, is that hero status is available to each of us all the time. We’re all capable of being ordinary heroes in everyday life.

Jesus emphasized this point in Luke 10:25-37, a parable about a crime victim who receives compassionate care from a person who was supposed to be his enemy, a Samaritan. Samaria was a capital of the northern kingdom of Israel (which fell to the Assyrians), a rival capital to Jerusalem in Judah. Jews were hostile to Samaritans because they “mixed” (socially and otherwise) with idol-worshipping Assyrians, among other reasons. They were so hated during Jesus’ time that Jews would take the longer route in a journey rather than pass through Samaria for a shorter commute. So imagine a story where the Samaritan gets to play the hero over a God-fearing priest as well as a Levite. The Samaritan saw a need and met it. No exemptions. No exceptions. No excuses. He was a hero to the one whose need was met. Maybe that’s the best way to define a hero.

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