Friday, July 8, 2016
The parable of the Good Samaritan holds some important lessons and we know them well. The title given to the parable is an indication that we believe that our faith leads us to do something tangible for those who are hurting and forgotten. The parable clearly encourages us to broaden our definition of neighbor and reminds us that we are to find opportunity to do good for them. “While traveling” along, our well thought out itineraries just might need to change for the sake of the neighbor.
But as soon as we feel the call to such responsibility, we also recognize the barriers that can get in the way. Maybe we feel the limits of just how much we can care given the overwhelming needs of the world. Maybe we have tried to help but found that it didn’t have the outcome we had hoped. Maybe the pace of our lives has simply caused us not to notice. Or maybe there are days when we are too tired, too worried or too preoccupied to invest ourselves in the well-being of others. On any given day, we can feel the distance between what we feel we ought to do and what we actually accomplish.
The lawyer who tested Jesus with the question of eternal life knew the integral connection between love of God and love of neighbor when he quoted the great commandment. The parable highlights what this can look like. Over the ages, the parable has brought both great challenge and encouragement to people of faith. The love shown by the Samaritan involved a movement from taking notice to drawing near to showing mercy. The one leads to the other.
It is in such giving that we get a glimpse into what God desires for the world. The movement of the Samaritan reflects God’s unexpected movement in the world in Christ, who took notice of our suffering, drew near to it and showed compassion to all.
As our ministry is always being shaped by compassion both received and given, may we discover something new in this most familiar story. As parables go, we might see ourselves in a new light, inspired and surprised by what a difference we can make together as the church.
As we worship, grant us vision, till your love’s revealing light
in its height and depth and greatness dawns upon our quickened sight,
making known the needs and burdens your compassion bids us bear,
stirring us to ardent service, your abundant life to share. –
Evangelical Lutheran Worship 712