Doing Likewise – Good News for October 5

5 10 2009

Luke 10:25-37

There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test Jesus and said, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read it?”

He said in reply, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” He (Jesus) replied to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.” But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus,  “And who is my neighbor?”

Jesus replied,  “A man fell victim to robbers as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. They stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half-dead. A priest happened to be going down that road, but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. Likewise a Levite came to the place, and when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side.

But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight. He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them. Then he lifted him up on his own animal, took him to an inn, and cared for him.

The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction, ‘Take care of him. If you spend more than what I have given you, I shall repay you on my way back.’ Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?”

He answered, “The one who treated him with mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

The Daily Path: I’d like to think that if I came across someone who was seriously wounded by the side of the road that I would stop and provide assistance just as the Samaritan did. Many of us would. Where I live, the opportunity to experience this kind of occurrence is limited. There just aren’t many bloodied neighbors on the side of the road.

However, there are many wounded neighbors. People in serious need of help. They aren’t bleeding on the outside, but their spirit is hemorrhaging on the inside. Perhaps they are out of work. I know all too well the anxiety and despair this can bring. How will I provide new shoes to my children so they don’t have to wear pairs with holes big enough that their toes pop out? Will we have enough money for food after we pay all the bills? Will I have to go without my medication or dentist visit so that we can pay the property tax and keep our home?

Of course, in this society we rarely allow our wounds to show. We keep up the pretense that everything is fine… even though our world is crashing down around us. No, my friends, we can’t sit back and expect to find bodies on the side of the road in the literal sense. We won’t have many chances to bind the bloody wounds of our neighbor as a means of inheriting eternal life. But we have many opportunities to extend mercy. Simple acts of charity and kindness that seem of little value in the bigger scheme of things, but are priceless to someone in need.

That “extra” casserole you whipped up may be a week’s meal to someone else. The gift certificate you “won” in the raffle might provide shoes for a family that’s too proud to let the wounds show. “Can’t possibly use all of this” product in the Costco jumbo pack? Perhaps you can put your expertise to work helping tutor a child struggling with math who’s parents can’t afford to send them to Sylvan Learning, Score, or Kum0n for after school classes. Maybe it’s just a cup of coffee to listen and lend moral support to someone out of work. You get the idea.

The Christ who offers eternal life asks each of us to really look for our wounded neighbors and the bleeding that isn’t obvious. To make the small efforts. To open our hearts in places where a little light will make a huge difference towards ending the darkness.

Room to Chat: Father, help me to see my neighbor’s wounds. Give me the strength to act where I’m needed most.