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Pentecost 6 Proper 11C July 21, 2019

Amos 8:1-12
Psalm 52
Colossians 1:15-28
Luke 10:38-42

In our first reading today, we have another passage from the prophet Amos. Last Sunday, God held God’s plumb line up to the Northern Kingdom, and we learned that, under the rule of King Jeroboam II, the rich and powerful were gaining in wealth and power, but most of the other people were struggling just to survive.

This week, God shows Amos a vision of a basket of summer fruit. Herbert O’Driscoll writes, “Amos wants his listeners to imagine vividly what happens to a basket of summer fruit, especially in the heat of that land. It rots. Its beauty has gone, its delicious taste has become repulsive. This is precisely how he wishes to portray his society.” (O’Driscoll, The Word Among Us, Year C, Vol. 3, p. 55.

To portray the level of corruption and dishonesty, Amos describes merchants resenting the sabbath and other holy days because they can’t sell wheat or grain. He says that they “make the ephah small and the shekel great.” The ephah is a unit of weight or quantity, and the shekel is the currency. The merchants are rigging the scales so that the buyer gets less than the correct weight, but pays more money for it. This is causing great hardship to the poor.

The level of corruption in the society is so profound that there seems to be no hope. God is going to send a famine, but it is not a famine of food or water, but  “a famine of hearing the words of the Lord.” When we humans fail to treat each other with compassion and justice, our hearts can be so hardened that we can no longer hear God calling to us.

Our gospel for today is the wonderful and familiar story of Mary and Martha. We know that these two sisters and their brother, Lazarus, are among Jesus’ closest friends and that he would stop by their home in Bethany whenever he could.

Scholars tell us that Martha is functioning as the head of the house. She welcomes Jesus. In sitting at the feet of Jesus, Mary is acting as a formal disciple.

Jesus says that Mary has chosen “the better part.” Does that mean that he thinks Martha’s preparing the meal is an inferior role?  The text says that Martha is distracted by “many tasks.” The phrase “Many tasks” is translated from the Greek diakonia, servanthood. Jesus told his disciples and us, “I am among you as one who serves,” and he called his disciples and us to be servants. Would he then criticize the role of a servant? No.

In the past, some folks have felt that, in saying that Mary has chosen “the better part,” Jesus us telling us that contemplatives are superior to activists.  Most scholars would disagree with that interpretation. Then, what is our Lord saying?

Biblical scholar Charles Cousar suggests that we remember the parable that appears directly before this encounter with Mary and Martha—the parable of the Good Samaritan.  Cousar says that the Samaritan “…is a model for loving one’s neighbor (as well as identifying who the neighbor is.” (Cousar, Texts for Preaching Year C,  p. 437.

Cousar continues, “…Discipleship has to do not only with love of neighbor but also with love of God, not only with active service but also with a silent and patient waiting upon [Jesus]. The Samaritan and Mary belong together.”

Where did the Samaritan get the strong faith and the vibrant grace to go over to this half-dead stranger, and save his life? Probably from an understanding of God gained from spending time with God. We see him engaged in active and life-saving ministry but we don’t see all the time he has spent in the presence of God.

On the other hand, we are seeing Mary making the choice to place herself in the presence of Jesus and to absorb everything she can. Cousar writes that Mary is “a learner of Jesus.” This reminds me of our diocesan mission statement, that we are called to “pray the prayer of Christ, learn the mind of Christ, and do the deeds of Christ.” We have to spend time with God, Jesus, and the Spirit to get the guidance and grace that we need to do ministry.

Is Jesus putting Martha down? I don’t think so for a minute. The text says that the disciples were with Jesus, so Martha is probably faced with 12 guests. They have to be fed and perhaps housed. Somebody has to take care of all those details. We know that our Lord valued the ministry of hospitality. He was constantly feeding and welcoming people.

Jesus loves and respects both Mary and Martha.With their brother, Lazarus, they are his closest friends. Coming just after the story of the helpful Samaritan, this story is reminding us of how important it is to spend time with Jesus. I think, also, that our Lord is saying that he would like to have some quiet time with both Mary and Martha.

Time together is a precious gift.  Time with family and friends, time with our faith community, and time with God. I thank God for our time together today.  Amen.

Pentecost 5 Proper 10C RCL July 14, 2019

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

Our opening reading comes from the prophet Amos. Scholars tell us that Amos’ ministry took place between 760 and 750 B.C., two thousand seven hundred years ago.

United Methodist Bishop Willimon writes, “Prophecy is the gifted ability to see what other people cannot or will not see. Prophets focus primarily on the moral and spiritual condition of a nation; they do not simply predict future events, but warn of consequences to injustice. Willimon, Feasting on the Word, Year C, Vol. 3, p. 221.)

Amos was minding his own business, going about his daily work of being a farmer and a shepherd and a “dresser of sycamore trees,” when God called him to leave his home and land in the Southern Kingdom of Judah and venture into the Northern Kingdom of Israel.

Amos was not a member of the professional prophets’ guild. He had no colleagues to support him. Under the leadership of King Jeroboam the Second, Israel had exercised its military might and expanded its land to the farthest reaches in its history. The king and the other prominent and powerful people enjoyed an obscene level of wealth and power while the rest of the people tried to eke out enough to survive.

Amos had a vision of God holding up God’s plumb line of justice and compassion to this corrupt society, and, of course, the society did not pass muster. The priest of Bethel, Amaziah, was completely under the control of the king, and he advised Amos to go home to Judah. Amos responded by telling Amaziah in no uncertain terms that the Northern Kingdom was going to collapse under the weight of its own corruption and that God’s justice would prevail.

Here we have a picture of a nation whose king is so corrupt and such a tyrant that no one dares to stand against him. This includes the priest, who has become a servant of the king instead of being a servant of God. The courage and faithfulness of Amos offer us a shining example of God’s prophets through the ages.

The parable of the Good Samaritan also speaks to us powerfully over the intervening two thousand years. The lawyer asks a question: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Biblical scholar Fred Craddock makes a profound observation on this: “Asking questions for the purpose of gaining an advantage over another is not a kingdom exercise. Neither is asking questions with no intention of implementing the answers.” (Craddock, Luke, Interpretation, Westminster John Knox, p. 130.) Scholars tell us that the law had defined “neighbors” as “your kin” (Lev. 19:17-18.) Cousar, Texts for Preaching Year C, p. 427.)

So, when Jesus told this parable and the priest and Levite passed by on the other side, his hearers would not have batted an eye. They would have accepted that behavior because they knew that people who served in the temple had to observe the laws designed to keep them ritually pure for their religious duties. The beaten man is described as “half dead,” and priests and levites were forbidden to go near a dead body even if it was a parent. (Cousar, Ibid., p. 427.)

But when the Samaritan stops and helps the man, Jesus’ hearers would have been shocked beyond our ability to understand. Samaritans had split off from the true faith; they had intermarried with the Assyrians who had conquered them. They refused to help with the building of the temple in Jerusalem and instead built their own temple on Mount Gerizim. Their worship and theology were not orthodox. They were seen as the ultimate Other, and they were hated.

Since the man was beaten and bloody and the robbers had taken all his clothes, it was impossible to tell whether this unfortunate man was Jewish or Samaritan, rich or poor, but that did not matter. The Samaritan looked beyond all the possible labels and saw him as a fellow human being who would die if no one helped him. The Samaritan offered the best treatment he could for the wounds and then took the man to an inn and paid for his continuing care.

Once again, Jesus is stretching the limits of the law. A neighbor is not just “our kin.” It is anyone who needs our help. And the Samaritan, who shows such profound compassion and goes so many extra miles, becomes an inspiring example of what it means to be a good neighbor.

Jesus is constantly and forever stretching the limits of our hearts and minds. He is always calling us to deeper compassion. He is in every moment calling us to be inclusive, to dissolve the barriers that get in the way of his love. He is calling us to look at each other, to look at every person, through his eyes.

May we let him lead us. Amen.

Pentecost 4 Proper 9C RCL July 7, 2019

2 Kings 5:1-14
Psalm 30
Galatians 6: (1-6), 7-16
Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

Our opening reading introduces us to Naaman, a military commander, a man of great courage who has earned military victories for his king. Naaman has everything he could want, success, fame, and fortune, but there is one problem. He has leprosy.

Here we must stop and realize that this does not mean that he has the terrible Hansen’s disease, the affliction we know as leprosy. In biblical times, any disease of the skin was called leprosy. Still, though it wasn’t fatal, this malady was a source of great distress to Naaman.

As it happens, the army of Naaman has taken captive a young woman from the land of Israel. This perceptive young woman has become the maid to Naaman’s wife, and she tells her mistress that the great general should go to see the prophet in Samaria. The young woman assures Naaman’s wife that this prophet, who is none other than Elisha, can cure Naaman’s illness.

Naaman gets a letter of introduction from the king, packs up a great deal of money, and a wardrobe full of clothes, and goes to the king of Israel. The king is confused by the letter, since he is not able to heal people, and he thinks Naaman is trying to start a war with him.

Elisha, the prophet, hears that the king of Israel has torn his clothes in distress and sends him a message indicating that he can offer help. Naaman shows up at Elisha’s house with all his horses and chariots, but he is deeply offended because Elisha does not come out and meet him. Instead, Elisha sends a message telling Naaman to go and wash in the Jordan seven times and he will be healed.

But poor Naaman has been slighted, and he works himself up into a rage. Once again, the little people, the servants, bring wisdom and compassion into the situation. If the prophet had told the hero to do something very difficult, they reason, something that demanded a great deal of courage, Naaman would have done it in an instant. So why not just try this simple thing? Naaman washes in the Jordan and is healed. In two instances, it is the simple, everyday ordinary people, the servants, who offer wisdom to the great commander.

So often, it is ordinary good folks who are the heroes. I think of our remembrance this year of the 75th anniversary of D Day and of our gratitude to the people Tom Brokaw has called  The Greatest Generation. They saved us from the horror of Nazism.

In our gospel, Jesus sends out seventy disciples to teach and heal and preach the good news. They go out into a hostile world, like lambs among wolves. They travel light. They go to the first house where they are welcomed and eat what is offered them. They share God’s shalom with the people. They spread the Kingdom of God. 

This is the model for how we share the shalom of Christ. We go out two by two, We minister in community. We support each other.

In our reading from Galatians, Paul tells us how to restore someone who has gone astray.  He tells us to be gentle and to bear each other’s burdens. We do this all the time when we share problems and ask each other to pray for us. This means that we never have to deal with any burden alone. We help each other to carry burdens. There is great power and love in this one truth.

Then Paul goes on to say that what goes around comes around. If we spread love and joy and healing, those things will come back to us. When a community is centered in the fruits and gifts of the Spirit, those gifts grow in the community and they are there to share with others outside the community.

Paul also addresses a problem that is plaguing the community. Some people are still saying that, in order to be a Christian, people have to be circumcised. Paul is reminding them and us that becoming one with Christ is a spiritual matter, not a physical matter. If people want to join the new faith, they do not have to follow the dietary laws, nor do they have to be circumcised. We are called to follow the law of love.  Love God with all our heart and soul and mind and strength and love our neighbor as ourselves. Our neighbor is everyone, because everyone is a child of God.

What are our readings telling us today? First, the story of Naaman reminds us of the importance of everyday people. I think most of us feel that we are ordinary folks. We aren’t kings or queens or generals. God loves ordinary folks like us every bit as much as God loves people like Queen Elizabeth, Colin Powell, or Pope Francis. In the story of Naaman, the little people save the day.

Secondly, we do ministry together. Community is everything. We go out two by two or in a group. That way we can support each other in ministry.

Thirdly, how important is the quality of gentleness, gentleness with each other when we stumble or when someone makes an error. And what a great gift it is to bear each others’ burdens. By sharing and praying and helping each other, we can lead and guide each other through things that would swamp us individually.

There are many other things to glean from these readings, but a fourth one is that, as Paul says, our Lord has brought in a “new creation,” and the key to that creation is love. No one is beyond God’s love. God has created a big family, a family in which we respect the dignity of every person. These readings remind us that any person can be a source of healing and wisdom.  Amen. 

Pentecost 9 Proper 11C RCL July 17, 2016

Amos 8:1-12
Psalm 52
Colossians 1:15-28
Luke 10:38-42

In our opening reading, we continue to follow the ministry of Amos, the prophet who is called away from his work as a herdsman and a dresser of sycamore trees to go to the Northern Kingdom of Israel and hold up God’s standards to their society.

Last week Amos’s vision of God’s plumb line showed that the society was not measuring up to God’s ethical standards. This morning, he sees a vision of summer fruit which in a very short time is going to rot. This is an image of the society. It is rotten to the core. People can’t wait until the sabbath is over so that they can go out and cheat their neighbors. They rig the scales so that they show a pound when the weight is less than a pound, and they cheat people out of their hard-earned money. The rulers live in luxury while the common people barely survive.

God says that there will be consequences, and indeed there are always consequences when we humans fail to treat each other with respect, honesty, and fairness. There is going to be a famine, but it is even worse than a lack of food and water. It is a famine for the word of the Lord. People will search high and low to hear the voice of God, but they will not find it. Their lives will be going on without the guidance of God. What a horrible thought.

Our gospel for today is the beloved story of Mary and Martha. Martha is clearly the head of the household, which was an unusual role for a woman in those times. She welcomes Jesus into the house. We can assume that she is preparing a meal, which the customs of hospitality would demand. Mary is sitting at the feet of Jesus in the classic posture of a disciple, listening to our Lord and absorbing the healing and loving and reconciling energy of his presence.

Martha complains to Jesus that Mary is not helping her with the preparations. Jesus defends Mary’s right to spend time with him and, in fact, to become a disciple.

Is Jesus criticizing those who take action and take care of others? I don’t think so. We need to remember that this story follows right after the parable of the Good Samaritan, in which Jesus praises the Samaritan’s caring for the man who had been beaten by the robbers.

This episode from the life of Mary and Martha and Jesus reminds us that spending time with our Lord is as important as helping others. The two go together, prayer and action. Many wise people tell us that we cannot be people of prayer without being spurred on to action, and I think that is true. Prayer leads us to caring action, and action leads us back to the need for prayer.

I think that probably each of us has a Mary part and a Martha part. Some of us may be more deeply called to action; others may be called more to prayer, but both are essential. Our prayers inform and guide our action.

In the end, I think Jesus would have liked to spend time with both Martha and Mary, and then have all three of them get the meal ready, enjoy the meal together and then wash the dishes together.

Scholars tell us that our reading from the Letter to the Colossians is adapted from an ancient hymn. It is a powerful and beautiful statement about the nature of Christ. “Jesus is the image of the invisible God,” Paul writes, “…for in him all things were created.” Christ is the eternal Word, who called the creation into being. Paul goes on to remind us that our Lord is the head of the Church and that he has reconciled us and all things to himself.

Paul continues, “In him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven.” Through the cross of Christ, the whole creation and everything in it is made one with God.

This is something we need to remember as we continue to pray for those who died and were injured in Dallas, St. Paul, Baton Rouge,  Nice, and Istanbul, for their families and friends and all who mourn. I ask your prayers for our country and our world, which is so plagued by violence of all kinds.

A wise spiritual guide, Sr. Rachel Hosmer, OSH, once said, “Christ has won the victory. We are just part of the mopping up operation.” Our Lord has reconciled the world to himself. We are called to bring that reality into being here on earth in his kingdom his shalom of peace and harmony and wholeness for all people and for the whole creation.

In today’s epistle, Paul also writes about “this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Christ is in each of us, and because of that, we can be people of hope. We can share in new life in him.

During the interfaith memorial service for the five police officers who were killed in Dallas, President George W. Bush quoted a passage from St. Paul’s Second Letter to Timothy. That passage reads, in the King James version, “God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

At the interfaith memorial service in Dallas, President Obama, quoting from Romans 5:3-5, said that Scripture tells us that “Suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”

I found it deeply inspiring to hear these words of faith from our two most recent Presidents.

May we move forward in faith and hope and love. May we, with God’s grace, work to bring in God’s shalom of peace, harmony, and reconciliation.  Amen.

Pentecost 9 Proper 11C RCL July 21, 2013

Amos 8:1-12
Psalm 52
Colossians 1:15-28
Luke 10:38-42

In our opening reading, God shows Amos a vision of summer fruit. The fruit is beautiful to see and it is sweet and delicious to taste. But the fruit is going to get rotten. This is a vision of a society that is so corrupt that it is rotten to the core.  Those in power “trample on the needy and bring to ruin the poor of the land.” They find ways to rig the scales so that they can make something less than a pound look like a pound and charge more for it. They make a profit wherever they can. They do not care about their fellow human beings. Because the people are not even trying to seek or do God’s will, God says that God is going to cause a famine, not of food, but of God’s word. People will finally realize that they need to seek the will and the word of God, but, when they do, they will not be able to find it.

In our epistle, we read a beautiful poem of praise to Jesus, the eternal Word, who called the creation into being and who is also the logos, the plan, the blueprint for human life. “In him the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.” In him, the whole creation is reconciled. As we listen to this passage, we can visualize the creation of stars and galaxies and solar systems, our own solar system, and “this fragile earth, our island home.” We can sense the love and care of God in every aspect of creation and especially in the life and ministry of Jesus. Paul writes, “God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Christ is in us, and we are in Christ. We are his body here on earth.

In our gospel we have another beloved and familiar story. In John’s gospel, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus are a brother and two sisters. Here in Luke’s gospel, Martha is the head of the household. As such, she welcomes Jesus.  In those days, it was unusual for a woman to be the head of a household.

It is traditional to offer hospitality, and Martha sets about preparing a meal. Meanwhile, Mary sits at the feet of Jesus in the traditional posture of a disciple.  Jesus fully accepts a woman, Martha, as head of the household and another woman, her sister Mary, as formal disciple.  This is revolutionary thinking and action regarding the roles of women.

But then Martha comes to Jesus and complains. She asks Jesus to get Mary to help her with the work. Jesus says that Mary has chosen the better part.

Scholars tell us that, in the past, we have made some errors in the way we interpret this story. So, the first thing we want to do is correct those mistakes.  Jesus is not saying that those who are students and contemplatives are better than those who make meals and wait on tables and do other tasks which we can call diakonia, that is, the ministry of servanthood, the ministry of deacons. We need all the gifts. Many contemplatives have said that the more we pray, the more we are compelled to take action, to realize that we have to get out there and help people.

Jesus is not scolding Martha for fixing and serving the meal. He is giving us some priceless guidance. In the words of my beloved friend, Carole Brown, Jesus is telling us, “Fret not thy gizzard. A fret gizzard incapacitates.” It’s not the cooking that’s the problem. It’s getting worried and frazzled that’s the problem.

This account of Mary and Martha is put right next to and paired with the parable of the Good Samaritan. Somehow, the Good Samaritan was so steeped in the word of God and the Spirit of God and the law of God that, when he saw that man  lying half-dead on the Jericho road, he didn’t even have to think what to do; he knew. This is my neighbor, my fellow human being. I have to take care of him, I have to treat him as I would want him to treat me.  And that’s what he did. No fretting, No wringing of the hands. No questioning. Just action. Action which expressed, as the hymn says,  “pure, unbounded love.”

When Mary sits at the feet of Jesus, she is extending the best of hospitality because she is going to bask in his presence, She is going to sop up all the love and all the wisdom and all the presence he has to offer. And then she and Jesus and Martha and the other disciples can fix the meal together.

One commentator talks about how in the Church we have bake sales and we have tag sales and this project and that project and we lose sight of what we are here for. In a word, we become frazzled. Fortunately, we do not do this at Grace. We come and we sit at the feet of Jesus in peace and quiet and love, and we absorb his presence. Nobody frets about irrelevant things. We just gather to be with Jesus and with each other, to be his Body here in this place.

When we take the time to sit at the feet of Jesus, everything else flows from that with a minimal amount of fretting and wasting of energy. That precious time spent in his presence energizes and galvanizes us to be his risen Body in this place.

Prayer is important. Learning from Jesus is important. Sweeping and vacuuming and painting and repairing things and cooking and serving and all these things are equally important. But it all starts with listening to Jesus and responding to his guidance and love.

Blessed Lord Jesus, thank you for calling us together to be with you, to sit at your feet, to learn from you. Thank you for calling us to follow you.  Thank you for giving us your peace and your love deep in our hearts. Amen.

Pentecost 8 Proper 10C RCL July 14, 2013

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

Amos is one of my favorite people in the Bible. He is the perfect prophet for Sheldon, Franklin County, and Vermont. He is a farmer, a shepherd, a “dresser of sycamore trees.” He is not a member of the stuffy and sometimes corrupt professional prophetic guild. He has been called directly by God to leave his home and his work in the Southern Kingdom of Judah to go to the Northern Kingdom of Israel, which is enjoying a time of great prosperity and has expanded its territory through military conquest. Those in power are living in the lap of luxury, accumulating vast wealth, while the rest of the people are barely surviving.

God gives Amos the vision of God’s plumb line. God is setting this plumb line, this measurement of what is on the level, what is true and what is not, in the midst of God’s people. Here is this little shepherd and farmer speaking truth to power.

Amaziah, the priest of Bethel and an ally of King Jeroboam, tells Amos to go back home to the Southern Kingdom.  But Amos stands firm.

From time to time it is a good idea to apply God’s plumb line, God’s ethical measuring stick, to our lives and the life of the Church. Are we living in harmony with God’s vision, God’s values?

In today’s gospel, we have one of Jesus’ best known parables, A lawyer is trying to test Jesus. He is not trying to learn something. He is simply trying to challenge Jesus. He asks, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus asks him what the law says. The Law says, “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 you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” And Jesus tells him he has given the right answer.

But then the lawyer asks that question, not for enlightenment but for testing, “And who is my neighbor/’ Commentator Eric Barreto says that the lawyer is really asking, “how wide he must cast the net of love in his world. In the eyes of God, who counts as my neighbor?”

We all know the story. A man goes on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho. Robbers attack, They strip him, beat him, and leave him lying in the road half dead. A priest passes by on the other side. So does a Levite. But the Samaritan comes to him, has pity on him binds up his wounds, puts him on his own animal, takes him to an inn, and takes care of him, The next day he pays the innkeeper to continue the man’s care and promises to reimburse the innkeeper for any further expenses when he returns.

Scholars tell us that it is almost impossible for us to grasp how difficult it would have been for Jesus’ hearers to think of a Samaritan doing anything good. There were deep differences of culture and religion and ethnicity between Jews and Samaritans. If we think back a couple of weeks ago when the Samaritans did not welcome Jesus and the disciples asked him if he wanted them to rain down fire on the Samaritans, that captures the degree of hatred between these two groups.

We also have to remember that travel in those days was dangerous. People did not travel alone. Rich people had retinues for protection and most people would travel in family groups for safety. The Jericho Road was notorious for robbers. People of that time could well have thought that this man was foolish to go alone. Maybe he had a family emergency or urgent business.

Secondly, it is very easy for us to look down on the priest and the Levite. But they were religious officials who were supposed to follow the law, and a major point of the law was to preserve ritual purity. The traveler was well on the way to being dead, which would have made him ritually unclean. Jesus’ hearers would have understood why the priest and the Levite kept their distance.

But this Samaritan, this outcast, this man who is the lowest of the low, follows the law—love God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength—and love your neighbor as yourself. His pity, his mercy, his compassion, overrides all other considerations.

I am going to try to retell this parable in terms that try to approach the shock value of Jesus’ story.

A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho and he fell into the hands of robbers who stripped him, beat him and left him in the road half dead. An Episcopal priest was going down that road, and, when she saw the man, she passed by on the other side. So also, an Episcopal deacon, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a member of Al Qaeda, while traveling, came near him, and when he saw him, was moved with compassion, He went to him, applied antiseptic, and bandaged his wounds, Then he put him on his own animal, took him to an inn, and when he had to leave to attend to his business, he paid the innkeeper to take care of him until he was well.

That is the level of shock value. This person needed help. We didn’t stop and help him, An outcast, a hated person, showed the kind of care we are called to show.

Justo Gonzalez writes, “Jesus’ final injunction to the lawyer, ‘Go and do likewise,’ does not simply mean. Go and act in love to your neighbor, but, rather, go and become a neighbor to those in need, no matter how alien they may be.”

Once again, Jesus is breaking down barriers, calling us all to be one.  It is not easy to live into this vision of shalom. It is not easy to see the hated other as our brother or sister. As Paul points out in our epistle, we can only live as our Lord calls us to live through God’s gifts of faith, hope, and love.   Amen.