O God, we thank you for times of refreshment and peace in the course of this busy life. Grant that we may so use our leisure for the renewal of our bodies and minds that our spirits may be opened to the goodness of your creation; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.
A Funny Thing happened on the way to . . .
If people in Jesus’ time were writing a movie, the Samaritans would probably have been cast as the villains. They were foreigners, outsiders and couldn’t be trusted. Casting a Samaritan as a hero would be unheard of, – – unheard of that is, – – for anyone but Jesus.
A lawyer stood up and asked Jesus to clarify what he meant when he said that we should ‘love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus could have given a lecture, but one of Jesus’ favorite ways to teach was through parables – stories which use everyday situations to teach an eternal truth.
The image Jesus shared was common enough – a man attacked, robbed and left for dead on a dangerous road. From that point, however, things changed. The Priest and the Levite, people filling holy and faithful roles, pass by the man and leave him on the side of the road. The Samaritan, however, stopped to provide assistance. He sees this man who is essentially wearing the jersey of your favorite team’s biggest rival, and stops to help. It must have been an unexpected turn for those who were listening and hopefully helped them to see that being a neighbor is about more than living near someone. You can read the Parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37.
So What Does this Mean? Loving our Neighbor
Like the man beaten and left by the side of the road, you and I will encounter people everyday who are in need of help. Natural disasters destroy homes. Millions of children and senior adults struggle to find enough to eat. Unemployment and underemployment make it hard for some people to pay their bills. There is more need in the world than any one person or organization could ever meet.
So how do we, like the Good Samaritan, love our neighbor?
- Remember that we are all children of God. Regardless of which neighborhood we grew up in or language we speak, regardless of our skin color or religious background, regardless of our gender or age, each of us is a child of God who is loved, valued and important. The world may seek to divide people from one another, create labels and try to establish hierarchies, but in God’s eyes we are all important members of the body of Christ.
- Open your eyes – The Priest and the Levite walk by the man on the side of the road. They are clearly aware of his presence, but they don’t truly see him and his need as a priority or as an issue that effects their life. From folks who are homeless, to students who are hungry, to senior adults who are lonely, there is a good chance that each of us passes by people in need everyday. The key for most people is learning to open their eyes and to see what is already around you. Notice the people whom you see on the street. Pay attention to the person who doesn’t seem to have a lunch at school. Listen to the stories of people who are searching. Slow down and focus on the world around you and it is amazing what you can discover.
- Provide help that is helpful – Did you notice that the Good Samaritan doesn’t take care of the man for the rest of his life. He stops and tends to his wounds. Gets him to a place of safety and meets his immediate needs, so that the injured man can have the opportunity to return to living his normal life. Being a Good Samaritan doesn’t mean you have to meet every need for every person in the world. Being a Good Samaritan means acknowledging the other, sharing compassion, and providing just enough help to restore the one who is in need to a place where they can once again care for themselves.
1. What is the most surprising part of this story to you?
2. What is one action you can take this week to love your neighbor?
Gracious God, none who trust in your Son can be separated from your love. Give to those who face times of trial the gift of peace and contentment, hope and fulfillment in their love of you, and joy and companionship in their relations with others; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Opening and Closing Prayers adapted from Sundays and Seasons.com. Copyright 2017 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission under Augsburg Fortress Liturgies Annual License #25165.