Who is our neighbor?

Seventh Sunday after Pentecost
11 July 2010
Proper 10C (RCL)

Amos 7:7-17
Psalm 82
Colossians 1:1-14
Luke 10:25-37

I’m sitting in my office (sort of) listening to the “Thursday group” come in for exercises. By “sort of”, I mean I’m getting up to get the creamer and sugar out for the coffee, and greet the ladies. This is part of the Crestwood Parish Nurse program. People from Crestview retirement center are coming over on Thursday mornings to do an exercise class. After the class, a detective from St. Louis County Police will speak on avoiding fraud. In a very short time, Deb has put together an interesting group of folks who make a point of coming to the programs we offer. And most of the folks are from the neighborhood, not from Advent.

So, I’m reading the story of the Good Samaritan, and puzzling over the fact that Luke seems (again) to get the moral backward. The lawyer asks the quetion, “Who is my neighbor?” and Jesus answers with the famous story. By the rules of Greek story telling, the main character of the story is not the Samaritan, but the man who fell among thieves (he is the only person who appears in every scene). So, we are to identify with him. So, when Jesus says, “Go and do likewise,” are we supposed to fall among thieves? The shocking part of the story is that the hated Samaritan shows mercy while the priest and levite do not (for perfectly good reasons — on their way to the Temple, contact with a corpse would render them unfit). So, we are supposed to learn to accept mercy from people we despise.

Or, to bring it closer to home, to accept mercy and ministry from people “not us,” from visitors, for example. So, what do these elders who come for exercise have for us? How do we accept their gifts? That’s a lot harder than figure out what we have to offer them. Who is the Samaritan, and how do we accept mercy from that one? Go and do likewise.

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