Deuteronomy 30:10-14, Colossians 1:15-20 Luke 10:25-37
In today's gospel we get to eavesdrop on a conversation between Jesus and a "scholar of the law.“ "What must I do to inherit eternal life?,” says the scholar. “What does the law say?”, responds Jesus. When the scholar accurately quotes the law, that he should love God and his neighbor as himself, Jesus gives him an A+ .
Then the conversation takes an interesting turn. The scholar asks, what do you mean by “neighbor”? Hmm. Think of your own similar conversations. You tell your child she can have dessert when she finishes everything on her plate. And she says, “What do you mean by “everything”? Sounds to me like she wants to carve out an exemption… maybe the peas?
And doesn't it sound like the scholar is seeking an exemption? “This ‘neighbor’ I am supposed to love as myself… that's not everybody is it? Surely, there are limits”. We don't know for certain who he'd like to exclude, but Jesus picked a likely candidate when he told the story of the good Samaritan. Jews and Samaritans were openly hostile to one another. And this Jew would have been happy to hear Jesus say, “Well, of course, I didn't mean Samaritans! They're the exception that proves the rule’. Instead Jesus told a story in which the Samaritan is the hero, the person to emulate. And what made the Samaritan the hero? He was moved with compassion.
He treated the wounded man as he himself would want to be treated. He loved the wounded man as he loved himself. The directive Jesus gives is, "Go and do likewise. “
While we do not live in the Jews v. Samaritan world of Jesus's day, we live in a world no less divided, no less tribal. Racially, politically, even within the church we see divisions. Tragically this division sometimes moves beyond a difference of opinion to violence.
I would like to suggest two ways we might each contribute to the healing of these divisions. First, involves our social media practice. We have learned that social media is designed to add fuel to the fire. That hate speech attracts hate speech. And while I am sure that none of us post hate speech, are we sure that our social media use does not belittle or defame others? Make sure you always do a “good Samaritan” check before you post.
Secondly, living in our own silos, surrounding ourselves only with people who agree with us, only bolsters division. We would each grow individually and could contribute to the greater good by reaching out with affirmation or kindness to the "Samaritans "in our world, the people we do not usually include, the people we would like to make an exception to the golden rule.
The fabric of our social life is torn and fraying. But with God's grace it is not beyond repair. Let us commit ourselves to the compassionate mending.
by: Pat Schnee