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.”
from Jennifer Creager, Resurrection Prayer Ministry
The scripture for today is the story of a man in trouble, left for dead at the side of the road by robbers, and the people who passed by, looked away and crossed to the other side so that they wouldn’t have to really see this horrible thing that had occurred. It’s also the story of another traveler, who did see the man in trouble, and was moved to go out of his way to help him. Jesus made it clear which of the passers by understood the answer to the question, “Who is my neighbor?” and that it was God’s will that we “go and do likewise.”
How do we do that? I think it has to do with seeing – even those things we don’t really want to see, and then being moved to do something about them.
There is a song I love, recorded by Pink Floyd in 1987, that speaks to me about this kind of seeing:
On the turning away
From the pale and downtrodden
And the words they say
Which we won't understand
Don't accept that what's happening
Is just a case of others' suffering
Or you'll find that you're joining in
The turning away
It's a sin that somehow
Light is changing to shadow
And casting its shroud over all we have known
Unaware how the ranks have grown
Driven on by a heart of stone
We could find that we're all alone In the dream of the proud
No more turning away
From the weak and the weary
No more turning away from the coldness inside
Just a world that we all must share
It's not enough just to stand and stare
Is it only a dream that there'll be
No more turning away?
Prayer is the way we connect with God and, in that communication, open the way for the Holy Spirit to open our eyes to see our neighbors and love them as we do ourselves. This week, let’s pray for no more turning away.
Help us to see the weak and the weary as we move through the world, and move us to act in response to what we see, not turn away. Open our eyes and our hearts to our neighbors and move us to action so there will be no more turning away.
Let us see you in everyone we meet, and respond as you have commanded, so that we all will live.
* On the Turning Away, Written by: Dave Gilmour, Anthony Moore. Lyrics © CONCORD MUSIC PUBLISHING LLC.
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