The merciful Samaritan

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with compassion.
— Luke 10. 33

You have heard that it was said, “Go and do likewise.” In other words, go and be a “good Samaritan,” and help others.

Of course we ignore the hated status of the Samaritans. What this really means is “Serve those who despise or judge you, serve them with humility and compassion. Love those whom you hate. Bless those whom you want to curse. Go to your enemy, and help them.”

But listen: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho”— that’s us, we’re with him— “and he fell among robbers.” This is not just a story about being the Samaritan any more than it is about the Levite. It’s about being the man in the ditch. We lie there, weak and bleeding, while those who should help us pass by. Finally comes a rescuer—and it is our vile enemy! That moment—that feeling that we are dependent on the one we despise—that’s what this story is about.

It’s not about what we are obligated to give, or whom we ought to love. It’s about receiving. Those whom you curse have blessed you. Those whom you belittle have served you. Your enemy has saved you. Like Naaman, healed by an Israelite, you are made whole by the very people you be rid of. The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.

We all have those we want to silence, shut out, or do away with altogether: illegal immigrants, gay pastors, the powerful elite, noisy children in church, bigots, coworkers who annoy us, addicts and criminals, political opponents… But the merciful Samaritan smiles at us, lying there needy and vulnerable on the roadside, and says, “Don’t be so quick to judge and exclude me. I am your savior.”

God’s grace comes to us from beneath, through those whom we do not see or do not want to see, through unworthy people and unfortunate events and unlikely channels. God comes to us in the one we have crucified. And despite our fear and resistance, our judgment and our attempts to separate ourselves, God showers gentle mercy on us, God loves us and saves us.

We lie on the bed at the inn, our bill paid, our wounds healing, our hearts wondering. And when we are ready, we rise and go out into the world with eyes of mercy, hearts of gratitude.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes

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