Who Is My Neighbor?

By God’s great mercy, given this terrible week of violence, trauma, and collective sadness, the lectionary text was Jesus’ Parable of The Good Samaritan. There is so much in this parable that is relevant to the events of this week. The hated Samaritan turns out to be the good guy in the story, challenging our own racism and other kinds of prejudice. We are exhorted to consider every person in need to be worthy of our love and care. We consider the Good Samaritan, the risk he took, the compassion he showed, and we encourage one another to go and do likewise.

But this week, I saw the story differently than I have in the past, realizing that it is Jesus who is lying half-dead on the side of the road. Jesus is the man robbed, beaten, stripped naked, and left for dead. Sadly, this roadside is a crowed place this week, with many victims of injustice, and many feeling as if they are unseen by those who share this road we travel. Jesus, the crucified one, is among them and he asks us, “Who will be my neighbor?”

Here’s the sermon.

Luke 10:25-37 (NRSV)

Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” 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.” And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.” But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 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. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. 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. 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.’ Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”



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