How would those who have sought death for Terri Schiavo figure in the story of the Good Samaritan?
In this parable, remember, criminals robbed and stripped a traveler headed from Jerusalem down to Jericho. They beat him and left him half dead by the side of the road. Had the traveler remained there, he surely would have died. He might even have died of thirst in that desert land.
A priest came along. But rather than save the helpless man, he passed by on the other side of the road. So, too, did another traveler.
Then a Samaritan discovered the incapacitated stranger. He cleaned his wounds and brought him to an inn. He instructed the innkeeper to care for the injured man and vowed to cover the cost.
Could the injured stranger talk? Was he mentally disabled? Was he in a persistent vegetative state? Was there any hope he might recover his former good health?
We do not know, because Jesus did not tell us.
The Gospel only says the Samaritan was the traveler's good neighbor and that Jesus told the Samaritan's story to teach a so-called "expert in the law" just what it means to be a good neighbor.
Apparently, the wounded traveler's precise clinical condition and prognosis were not important factors in determining what simple human decency demanded of the traveler's neighbors.
Now who are Terri Schiavo's good neighbors?
It was no stranger who found Terri injured and helpless one day 15 years ago. It was her own husband -- a man who vowed before God to care for her in sickness and in health.
Unlike the Good Samaritan, Terri's husband did not need to use his own money to pay for her care. He won more than $700,000 in a legal settlement for that very purpose.
Over time, this husband would take up with another woman. He would belatedly claim to remember his injured wife once told him she would not want to be kept alive artificially. So he asked a judge if he could starve and dehydrate her to death.
The judge ordered the innkeeper to withhold all food and water from the wounded woman.
Her parents then pleaded with the husband and the judge to allow them to care for their daughter. The judge and the husband refused. Terri must die, they said.