Emmitsburg Council of Churches

 

The Holy Gospel According to St. Luke10:25-37

Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he said, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" 10:26 He said to him, "What is written in the law? What do you read there?" 10:27 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." 10:28 And he said to him, "You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live."

10:29 But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" 10:30 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. 10:31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 10:32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.

10:33 But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. 10:34 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. 10:35 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.' 10:36 Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?" 10:37 He said, "The one who showed him mercy." Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."

The Gospel of the Lord . . .


Not Far From the Kingdom

As we consider the ways in which Jesus' story speaks to our lives, I would like to propose that God tests our loyalty by placing obstacles of opportunity into the pathways of our lives. The question is . . . Will we go around these opportunities and so avoid having to overcome the challenges that they represent or will we dive into the problems they present in order to solve them or fix what is apparently wrong?. The choice we make may depend on our frame of mind at the time we encounter the challenge . . . . or it may depend on what resources we feel are available to us and our comfort level with strangers or unfamiliar circumstances.

So what resources do we have to draw on when we are confronted with Someone else's situation of adversity??

If you are young and have good health, your greatest resource might be your physical strength . . . with good sense and strength of body . . . you may be able to physically deliver another person from danger, like a fireman or a policeman or woman. Being physically fit, you might be able to assist someone in need by helping them to fix their house after a flood or other storm damage. Or you might be able to fix a friend's bicycle that gets a flat tire . . .

On the other hand, if your not able to lift heavy things as though to save someone from peril or your not mechanically inclined to assist someone with a practical problem -- then your approach to the times when an obstacle of opportunity presents itself -- may be completely different. Using your head in a potentially dangerous or challenging situation can lead to a positive outcome for the party in trouble. Perhaps by using your skills in Reasoning there will be longer lasting results for someone who has suffered an injury or loss. The gift of Reason or Thinking through a person's dilemna could enable them to gain long-term help or resources that would aid in their recovery.

Keep in mind here, that we are examining various ways that the travelers "might have helped" the injured man that they encountered while traveling down the road.

Maybe your gift is not with thinking out the master plan, but you're a great organizer, you might have Communication skills to reach others and get people working together toward the same goals. In an emergency or time of crisis . . . there are many kinds of human resources that can be helpful to solve an individual's problem or to provide immediate assistance to many people in danger or with any need.

IN the lesson of the Good Samaritan, Jesus has a unique way of addressing all of us and convicting us of our "self-absorption".

By this I mean to say that we are not unlike the priest or the Levite in this story. Seeing a stranger lying on the side of the road in need of help would undoubtedly disturb us, but with equal intensity we know ourselves well enough to admit that; there's a strong likelihood we probably would not stop to help. In our minds we'd be thinking: "I wouldn't want to get involved." Or "I'll be late for work!" Or "I wouldn't know what to do to help them." "They might have some kind of disease, better to let the professionals take care of them -- besides, they're paid to do that!"

I make these points, not to put any one of us on the spot, nor to dismiss us from responsibility, But to point out the truth of our reluctance to get involved with someone else's problem and that there are practical considerations that we are aware of.

Nevertheless, JESUS IS TELLING US THAT BEING GOD'S CHILDREN ENTAILS BECOMING INVOLVED WITH OTHERS and THAT THE "OTHER PERSON (whom we don't know)" WHO BECOMES An Obstacle in your PATH or Mine, might just be the connecting link God has introduced into your busy world so that you can SERVE GOD be about God's work and less stressed out by your own!

Jesus uses the story about the "Good Samaritan" to demonstrate for the smart, young lawyer (and us) what is required of God to get closer to inheriting eternal life. Or as the lawyer inquires of Jesus, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" To which Jesus replies, "Do this, and you will live."

In the most simplistic terms, Jesus tells the Lawyer not to neglect the people who are poor or who are the untouchables in his world. But rather, please God, by treating all people with dignity and respect (as much as you might treat someone who is from your own family, or someone who is famous or wealthy). Jesus proposes a complete reversal of the society norms the lawyer is used to . . . perhaps we should note the strikingly familiar societal expectations of today. After all, when you see a successful lawyer today, more than likely they're not associating with folks that are poor, unless its in a court of law!

Jesus is asking the priviledged to move out of their comfort zone and associate with people of lesser position in life, help these ones to improve their position. Jesus particular emphasis is that God's People should not treat others according to their class or social status (although this may get you ahead by worldly standards) but that we are to treat all people equally as God would . . . . and if you do this you are closer to God, or, as Jesus says in Mark's version of the Good Samaritan Story, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." (Mark 12:34b).

A TRUE STORY: Perhaps you have heard(??)

"The story is told, and I presume that it is true, of a wealthy family in England who took their children for a weekend in the country. While they were there, the children went swimming, and one of them began to drown. The other children called for help, and the gardener's son jumped in and saved the child.

Afterwards, the grateful parents asked what they might do to show their appreciation. The gardener told them that his son wanted to go to school and become a doctor, and he would be grateful if they could help with his education -- which they gladly did.

Many years later, Prime Minister Winston Churchill was stricken with pneumonia, and the king asked that everything possible be done to help him. They turned to Dr. Alexander Fleming, who had discovered penicillin and thus made it possible to treat pneumonia. Under his care, Churchill slowly improved and finally came back to full health.

Of that incident, Churchill said, "Rarely has one man owed his life twice to the same rescuer." You see, Dr. Fleming was the gardener's son who saved Churchill from drowning as a boy.

This story should make us acutely aware of how connected we are to each other. If the Churchill family had been less generous and had given some lesser gift than an education, Alexander Fleming might have been a gardener rather than a doctor -- and Churchill's pneumonia might have carried him away prematurely.

Let us Pray,

Lord help us to respond to the needs of others around us who are in need. Give us discernment as to when and how we might help those you place in our life paths. In Jesus name we pray.

Amen.

Read more writings of Pastor Jon