Tuesday, 9 July 2013

From Easy Answers to Difficult Actions

Lectionary Passages for July 17:Deut 30:9-14, Ps 25:1-10, Col 1:1-14, Luke 10:25-37
Donita Wiebe-Neufeld

I'm blogging from a room in the Maison De L'Amitie (House of Friendship) in Montreal on Tuesday, July 9. We've had a warm welcome here. (Very warm in our room, even 2 fans aren't cooling it off much!) I'm hoping to keep the blog up while we are here for the next three weeks, but since I'm never quite sure where and when I'll have time and access to the internet, I apologize if I am a bit hard to predict!

Today I read Luke 10-the story of the Good Samaritan-knowing that the next two weeks we will spend a lot of time interacting with homeless people at the St. James drop in centre a few kilometres from here.

The lawyer asks his first question; "what must I do to inherit eternal life", not to really hear the answer. He did it to test Jesus. (Lawyers, according to the study bible I have here, were experts in Mosaic law and were teachers of it.) In response, Jesus asks him a question about what is written in the law, a question the lawyer can't resist. He gives the simple answer every Jew knows. Jesus affirms him and says; "go do it and you will live."

Now the lawyer is hooked. Jesus really tricked him into answering his own question, and the answer sounds too easy-something every child knows and the lawyer doesn't want to end up looking like he asked a stupid question. So the lawyer pushes Jesus, "who is my neighbour?" After telling the story of the Good Samaritan, Jesus gets the lawyer to answer his own question again. Once again, the answer is clear, but this time it is far from easy because it carries implications for how the lawyer is living. The lawyer is a respected religious person, like the priest and levite in the story. And like them, he would be loath to make himself ritually impure by touching a body that was almost dead. Yet, if he is to be the neighbour and merit eternal life, he has to make himself like a Samaritan. The Samaritan wasn't worried about his status. He just quietly went out of his way to help the unfortunate man he found by the road.

We are privileged people like the lawyer. We don't often have to get our own hands dirty-we can pay others to do the things we don't want to, to take care of the poor. Often, that giving is a good thing, but if that's all we do we stay a 'clean' arms length from the real people and issues. Our understanding is largely head knowledge that may or may not really affect our hearts. Tomorrow, and in the weeks to come Tim and the boys and I get to meet some of the less fortunate, hopefully hear their stories, and also meet the people who run a drop in centre that helps them. I wonder what motivates these 'samaritans' and what helps them to reach out. I wonder what sorts of things we worry about, our status as individuals, faith groups, etc...that get in the way of what should be the simple acts of loving God and our neighbours.

Once again, I am struck by how the lectionary passages are helping me to think about things that are happening in my every day life.

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