938: as human beings, we can behold all creation the way no other creature can.
Day 938: Monday, October 10, 2022
as human beings, we can behold all creation the way no other creature can.
He is before all things and in him all things hold together. Colossians 1:17
Luke 10:25-37 The Parable of the Good Samaritan
25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
27 He answered, “‘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, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
The start of today’s Gospel reading might have been staged in some Law school classroom. A legal expert wants to test the intelligence of Jesus whose popularity is growing in the market place. After all, Jesus is only a carpenter’s son – has he had any education in the complexities of biblical Law?
One way to find out is to toss him a leading question (which lawyers are good at): Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life? How do you answer that question on the spur of the moment? How avoid pausing long enough to allow the lawyer to cut in and say: Ah, I see you are not sure.
But Jesus does not pause nor does he answer. Rather he tosses back a question at the expert: What does the law say? You should know. You tell me! The lawyer is caught off guard. To save face; to show he knows what the law says, he rapidly quotes the summation contained in the Torah: You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, all your being . . and your neighbor as yourself. To which - their roles having been reversed - Jesus grades him: Correct! Behave that way and you will live.
But still not wanting the leave the field embarrassed, the expert tosses Jesus another leading question: And who is my neighbor? And Jesus might have said at this point: Ah, thank you so much – but in response to that question let’s leave this classroom and cross over into an experience of the world as it is and as it ought to be:
“A man en route from Jerusalem to Jericho was assaulted by robbers, beaten, stripped, left half dead by the road. To the robbers, he was nothing but an object, a thing to be exploited. Now watch! Along comes a Temple priest. He recoils. He, too, sees an object and distances himself. Then comes a Levite, also associated with the Temple. He gives the victim wide berth; also sees him (as did the robbers) as an object, a curiosity, a distasteful distraction, road-kill.”
Is this not a description of the way so many see the world in modern times? We live among millions of beings separated by “empty” space – when in fact it is not empty but full of the very air we breathe; we are in a “swim” of air like fish in water. We are connected, contiguous. As also with trees, birds, rocks, earth, sky, microbes, celestial bodies that affect us seasonally, illuminate our day and night, indeed transfigure our night with stars that also help us to navigate! We are a community of beings that issue from a Source our Hebrew tradition dares not name – that ineffable Depth who calls our universe into being everyday as at the opening of Genesis. Everyone, everything is your neighbor.
And more marvelous still: as human beings we can behold all creation the way no other creature can. We see it, can touch it, praise it, love it, probe it, especially care for it whole heartedly, gracefully as does an unorthodox Samaritan: moved with compassion, approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds, bandaged them, conveyed him to shelter, paid the costs, followed up his condition . . . loving to Be! with all his heart and being and strength and mind – and loving his neighbor as himself!