Monday, July 16, 2007

The Samaritan

Yesterday, we encountered Jesus at his best in the Gospel of Luke. Jesus debates with a lawyer, grounded in proper interpretation of the religious code of the day. The beginning point is recognition of the absolute claim that God has on us. Wrapped up in that claim is the obligation we have to be in relationship with one another.

The point of the story of the Good Samaritan is that love of God and love of neighbor are inextricable. The example of the priest and Levite passing by on the other side highlights the human tendency to not live fully into the demands of faith. The priest and Levite give priority to their sense of maintaining the purity piece of the law, while ignoring the fuller implications. It is not enough to avoid the things that bring risk, a bloody victim on the roadside, because honoring God, in practice, means embracing the other.

There are countless ways we encounter individuals as being other. We are divided along many lines. We know ethnic differences, socioeconomic differences, class differences and ideological differences. The differences apply pressure resulting in isolation. We want to be with others that look like us, and think like us. The Gospel does not support our isolation.

Our categories and efforts to compartmentalize mean, I suspect, little to our Creator. God is often most visible in the person I experience as being most different. The Samaritan transcends all the barriers to engagement, and provides real care for the man beaten by robbers. The Samaritan cares in the way that God cares for us.

It is in concern and care for the other, we often discover the care and love, God offers us.

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