The Gospel of Luke 10:25-37
Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” He answered, “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.” And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.”
But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “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. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He 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. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, `Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’ Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
Let us Pray: Lord God and Father, who entrusted the earth to men and each to the other, as one family of man, give us the grace this day, to see Your Face in our neighbor and to seek all who need our help. Grant us the grace to work faithfully for Your glory and for our neighbor’s good. We make our prayer through Christ our Lord, with the Holy Spirit, one God forever, Amen.
Regardless of what culture or religion we’re from, we should be willing to help people in need, even if they’re different from us. So, the question to ask is not “Who is my neighbor?” but “Whose neighbor can I be?” If we were to pose Jesus, the question “Who is my neighbor?” what would he answer? He would certainly remind us that our neighbor is not only our fellow countrymen but also those outside our community. What does being a neighbor mean to you? It can be a lot of things, if we look close to home it is making sure our older neighbors close to us are being looked after, as we grow our neighbors become our church family, and soon we realize the people in our communities, state, and country are our neighbors. We than have to remember those around the world that can also be suffering, especially in Ukraine and other countries in turmoil. We live in a society where bitterness and vengeance often seem to triumph over forgiveness. We live and work with people who seem to be imprisoned in their resentments. Christ sends us forth to our homes and neighborhoods where it is all too easy to cultivate prejudice toward those who are different from us. We are missioned to a society in which human life is threatened by mass shootings and lack of concern for our neighbors. . We witness the weak and vulnerable of our society passed by time and time again. We belong to a wounded humanity, scarred by sin and division, by the pain we inflict on one another. Where are the Good Samaritans? It is Jesus as he comes to the wounded and brings them to the inn for healing. He is the one who stops for us as we lie by the roadside in our own needs. Jesus continues to bear our sins and even grieve for us. Today Jesus tells us to reach out and care for those who are in need, despite their race, religion, or political opinions!
Unfortunately, in today’s world most of us are cautioned to be careful, especially with strangers. And to a degree this is good advice. Let’s put ourselves on that road. What might be some legitimate reasons we don’t stop and help?
Danger. What if that man lying there was just pretending to need help? Maybe his friends were behind the bushes just waiting to waylay any do-gooder that happened by. You never know with strangers.
Purity. The condition of the man was difficult to discern from a distance. If he was dead, touching a body would make you ceremonially unclean. If you see someone with a flat tire on your way to church, what is the better decision? You are not dressed to help. Coming in late would interrupt the service. What if you are serving that day? People are counting on you.
Punctuality. Your family is expecting you back home after a week away. Friends and neighbors have been helping to cover your responsibilities while you were gone. Your family will worry if you are late. Maybe someone more local would happen by and help.
Skill Set. This injured man obviously needed help from someone trained in First Aid. You have no such skills. Probably someone else will come along who could offer the type of help really called for in this situation. Better let someone else take this one.
Blame. This wounded man may not be innocent. Maybe he was a thief knocked in the head by other thieves when it came time to divide the loot. Or maybe he ended up in this situation because of his own foolishness. He might have flashed his money around. Poor planning for his journey should not cause me to stop my own journey. That would not be fair.
Are these really legitimate reasons or are they excuses because we don’t really want to help.
Today’s world continues to suffer from “it is all about me”. Now put yourself in place of the one laying on the road, I bet you hope that the next person that comes along is a good Samaritan and able and willing to help. So today may we open our eyes, mind, and heart to someone who is in need and do what we can to care for them. May we have the eyes of Jesus and “see” every person as he does: one of God’s beloved! And let us remember Jesus’ words to the lawyer: “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.”
Let us Pray: Lord, teach us to be good neighbors, not just to the folk who live nearby but to everyone that we meet, to see the best in, and want the best for all your precious children, who might one day return to their Father’s house and the warmth of your embrace. This we pray in your Name. Amen.