Monday, July 22, 2013

Are mercy and kindness forgotten virtues?

Road from Jerusalem to Jericho

The Rev. Canon Rick Lobs

I have traveled the Jerusalem to Jericho road many times. That ancient road, now paved, is the geographical location of the parable. The people I have traveled with never want to be on that road after dark if possible. The fear was that the vehicle might break down. There are many places along this twenty mile road, which drops 3,300 feet between Jerusalem and Jericho, from which bandits could and can ambush the traveler. Historically, the Jerusalem to Jericho road was so dangerous that it was called, “The Path of Blood.” As late as the 19th century it was necessary to pay safety money to local sheiks to ensure safe arrival.

So, the story Jesus tells is about boundaries. Would a rotten, low down, Samaritan, one of the folks that just threw Jesus and his crew out of town, qualify as a neighbor? The whole concept must have floored the disciples. Well, let’s ruminate just a bit further.

Are both George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin neighbors?

Are Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, Al Qaida neighbors?
Are Al Sharpton and Jessie Jackson neighbors?
Are the folks at liberal MSNBC our neighbor? How about conservative Fox News?
Are those bishops responsible for the bleed out of the Episcopal Church neighbors?
Are illegal aliens, the undocumented, neighbors?
Is Edward Snowden our neighbor?
What about the guy or gal at the intersection with the “God bless” sign?
Is the homosexual couple down the street our neighbor?
Is President Barak Obama our neighbor? What about President George Bush?
Is the Pope our neighbor? Southern Baptists?
Are Liberals our neighbor” How about the Tea Party?

Perhaps you get the point. In the interest of transparency I can look at that list and see some folks for whom a little shock and awe would be therapeutic. How about you?

Jesus is calling me to name the worst of the list above my neighbor. He is not asking me to be their BFF – but He is demanding that if any of them find themselves in one of life’s ditches, bruised and battered, I am their neighbor and they are mine. The key words are "showing mercy". That is what the Samaritan did. In that regard he became a Christ figure. He modeled how the Lord treats us and we are ordered to go and do likewise.

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