Today's Lectionary Text
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.”
I read The Good Samaritan and I want to think “not me” -- that I would not be the priest or the Levite — not me! I want to think that I would, of course, have been the Samaritan, the person who stops and helps someone, a stranger, who is in need.
Realistically, I recognize that there are many times when I have been the person who literally or figuratively walked to the other side of the road. I have acted out of a spirit of real or perceived fear for my personal safety. I have acted out of a spirit of “no time” or “someone else will act.” I confess that there have even been times I acted out of a sense of judgment — which I would argue is the exact opposite of the concept of neighbor Jesus is trying to teach.
It can be challenging to think about helping someone who is unknown. It can be even more challenging to help someone who has labeled as “unworthy” of help. It is with this in mind that I think about the ongoing work and ministry taking place in O’Neill, Nebraska, following an immigration related raid that left a number of families in extreme distress. I also think about a new resource from GBHEM (General Board of Higher Education & MInistry) that includes a chapter written by my spouse, the Rev. Eduardo Bousson.
I find it hopeful that I continue to read, wrestle and engage in an attempt to better live as a neighbor in the way that Jesus describes in the parable of The Good Samaritan. I hope you will join me on this journey — and push yourself as I will strive to push myself to hold a more inclusive and proactive understanding of neighbor.
Board of Ordained Ministry
Prayer for Reflection
Open my eyes and heart to a greater understanding of neighbor.
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