Where many of us saw a Samaritan embrace that indicated the unavoidable reality of human brotherhood, others saw the apocalyptic threat of an action that should have been censured. The embrace of Luna and Abdou, the Red Cross volunteer and the Senegalese immigrant, on the beach of Tarajal (Ceuta), reflected the best and the worst of our society. In the face of the confusion of Abdou who did not understand why they were insulting the person who consoled him between her arms (“She only did her job. She comforted me, she helped me. It was a human gesture.”), the social networks burned up with hundreds of threatening tweets, humiliating insults, xenophobic messages, conspiracy theories, accusations of antipatriotic do-goodism. “A traitor to her country and to her race. Later will come the mentally handicapped children of these mixtures and the rest of us will have to maintain them.” “Take him with you, but take all of them.” “You want to take him to bed with you, ‘n….erfucker’”, etc.

Some experts in digital communication minimize the importance of these hate messages, alleging that the internet disproportionately amplifies the messages of minority groups who are very active on the social networks. Along this same line of pacification, other analysts justify these outbursts as pathological anomalies of any healthy system, exceptions to the rule of a society which is in its majority compassionate and which celebrates the embrace of Luna and Abdou.

Beyond the statistical debate that is trying to point out the goodness or evil of our social system, there exists a theological line of argument that, in my judgment, has not been taken into account: the emergence of evil as being against the Kingdom. It is possible that the malevolent social discourses might be the fruit of communitarian illnesses for which we have not yet found a cure in education. But it is also possible that these demoniacal expressions might be just that, manifestations of evil itself. I am not talking about steaming pots, horns, tails and tridents, but rather the diabolical dynamic that has again expelled Abdou to Morocco. Yes, because that “Samaritan embrace” of Tuesday, May 18, did not have the happy ending of a welcoming home, but rather the expulsion to the hell of the departure pigeonhole. On May 19 Abdou talked to Luna by telephone, from Casablanca! Symbols unite, devils separate. In the case of the “symbolic embrace” between Abdou and Luna, everything indicates that the devils won the game.

The theologian Jon Sobrino often laments the absence of dialectic in the social analysis of today. The language of political correctness has difficulty recognizing that beyond insufficiencies, weaknesses, lack of awareness and personal pathologies, there are social structures that incarnate evil, a radical evil that a chorus of Luciferian spokespersons are in charge of expanding. It is what is known in theology as “structural sin”. In his encyclical Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, John Paul II referred to it in these terms:

“… It should be pointed out that, in a world divided into blocs, presided over in turn by rigid ideologies, where instead of interdependence and solidarity there dominate different forms of imperialism, we have a world that is subject to sinful structures. The sum of negative factors that act contrary to a true consciousness of the universal common good and to the necessity to favor it seems to create, in both individual persons and in institutions, a difficult obstacle to overcome.  … “Sin” and “sinful structures” are categories that are not often applied to situations in the modern world. Nevertheless, it is not possible easily to arrive at a deep comprehension of a reality which we have before our very eyes without giving a name to the evils that accost us.” (#36).

When someone does something good, it awakens the beast of evil. To ignore this duel-like dynamic promotes an Edenic vision of reality and it leaves the cross of Jesus without theological rationality. Jesus did not die on the cross because He was disliked by some Pharisees or because of the treason of Judas, the denial by Peter, the self-blaming by Pilate or the collective hysteria of the people. Jesus died because every action that was done for the sake of the Kingdom of God fed the beast of an anti-Kingdom that ended up by nailing Him to a tree. In the times of Jesus there was no Twitter, but the gossiping demons attacked the Lunas of the time with the same ferocity as now. “If this one were a prophet, he would know what kind of woman it is who is touching him.” (Lk 7:39)

Despite what we would like to believe, the story of the Good Samaritan does not culminate in the convinced assent by the teacher of the Law who wanted to put Jesus to the test with the deceitful question of “Teacher, what do I have to do to inherit eternal life?” After the Samaritan’s sharp rebuke, the lawyer could do nothing more than recognize that the neighbor was the one who practiced mercy. But it doesn’t appear to be far-fetched to imagine him in a dialog with himself afire with the same flames of those who were seeking a way of taking Jesus out of the picture (Cf. Lk 22:2). To even propose an unclean Samaritan as a model of virtuous action in the context of a question about the law of God sounded at the time as scandalously provocative as the disarming embrace of a volunteer in the context of today’s defensive borders.

Two thousand years ago, in the Lucan story, a priest and a Levite censured with their indifference the transgressive conduct of a Samaritan who challenged the Levitical laws which prescribed avoidance of dead bodies (we should not forget that the man who was beaten was left on the side of the road “half dead”. Lk 10:30). Today the gossipers are others who on their Twitter profiles give judgments like diabolical members of a media Sanhedrin and who have labelled Luna as an “idiot” do-gooder taken in by an “abusive” Abdou. (“The victim and the savior or the abuser and the idiot. It is all a symbol of Europe acting like a dimwit.” Herman Terstch)

The building up of the universal brother and sisterhood to which Pope Francis invites us in his last encyclical is today a struggle against the demons who dissolve links and confront brothers and sisters. We are not looking for it nor do we want it, but the battle is joined. To ignore it or to flee from it is to condemn to hell the millions of those like Abdou who wander through the world in search of “Samaritan embraces”.

[Image from social networks]

To continue making our work of reflection possible, we need your support.
With just € 1.5 per month you make this space possible.
Father, theologian and musician. Member of the Theological Area of Christianity and Justice. He has written several Booklets in this collection: “Vulnerable Bodies. Caring as a Political Horizon” (2020), “Seeking Sanctuary: The Political Construction Of Habitable Places” (2019), “Steeping on the Moon. Eschatology and Politics” (2016), “Evangelical dystopias” (2013), “ Taking stock of reality, taking responsability for reality, and taking charge of reality”(2011) and “And if God were not perfect?”(2000).
Previous articleAnti-vaxxers, or how the vaccine has divided the United States
Next articleFour keys to understanding Afghanistan


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here