TUESDAY, APRIL 12TH
A TIME FOR A STORY
This familiar story has a way of deeply touching our souls, inviting us to expand in love, to extend our idea of what it means to love our neighbor. Jesus begins…
Just then a lawyer stood up to test me. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” I 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 I said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.”
But wanting to justify himself, he asked me, “And who is my neighbor?” I 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.” I said to him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:25-37, NRSV, revised*)
As you sit quietly with Jesus, what do you sense his invitation is for you today? Is there a particular person you are struggling to love? What is your greatest challenge in this story? Which is more difficult for you to share in order to help others – your financial resources, your abilities, or your time? Let the Spirit guide your heart for a few moments.
Jim and I are so fortunate to live in a neighborhood with people who are easy to love, who cooperate, and who try to get along well. We find this a great blessing, because we once lived in another area where this was not the case (two neighbors found fault with our property lines, even after both parties had the lots surveyed and learned that we were correct). Jim and I first tried to befriend, then to be helpful, then to be kind, and then just to peacefully appease the ones who were giving us trouble, but the situation never changed. Living there was very uncomfortable, because we finally just tried to avoid or ignore the difficult people bordering our yard. My spirit saddens when I recall this feeling.
And these are the neighbors Jesus tells us to love.
We are called to love the people who are different from us, but also those who differ with us.
This story of the Good Samaritan so clearly shows us who are neighbors are. The ones we are especially called to love are the ones who are especially difficult to love. The ones we encounter when the time isn’t convenient. The ones whose beliefs, values, or perspectives differ. The ones who need our mercy beyond our usual or easier acts of kindness.
Isn’t it interesting that we never learn how the injured man responded to the Samaritan’s kindness? That part of the story does not matter to Jesus. Jim wrote notes, took gifts of bread, and even shoveled snow from our neighbors’ sidewalks. Our relationship never changed. The outcome of our kindness does not matter. We are called to be kind, to show mercy, to be generous, to be loving to our neighbor – with no expectation but to serve and honor Jesus.
Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me. (Matthew 25:40, NRSV)
Dear Reader Friends, in my ongoing effort to promote peace, nonviolence, and goodwill for one another, I will not abide comments that do not. Thank you for understanding.
*The name of Jesus and his pronouns have been adapted by Karen into first-person.