This pandemic we’ve been in, for however many months, has been a challenge on every front. I won’t even mention how many months it’s been as someone would be sure to correct me. Everything is open to debate it seems.
Life has changed in more ways than we care to mention. We learned so many new words and terms, it leaves my head spinning some days.
This weekend our state will lift the mask mandate and most other restrictions. Life is returning to “normal” they say. The announcement was made a week ago with the target date of May 29th.
What is “normal”? And who is “they”? And more importantly – how will we each respond? Or maybe I should only ask, “How will I respond?” as I am only responsible for my own decisions.
I have been reading one passage for a few days. The familiar story keeps beckoning me to return, to look at what it would say to me in this moment, in these circumstances.
Jesus tells a parable, a story, when a lawyer asked Him the question “And who is my neighbor?” Let Him tell the story …
“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead.”Â
The actions of the robbers are never addressed by Jesus or anyone listening. We never read of another word about their actions. Instead Jesus continues the story about others, who did not participate in the robbery, but came along afterwards.
“And by chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.”
A priest. We aren’t given much information about him but the fact he is a priest tells us – he is a religious man. But rather than seeing if he can help, he “passed on the other side.” He did not offer any help.
“Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.“
A Levite comes along. Here we have a bit more information as the Levites had specific duties in the tabernacle. But alas, his response is the same as the priest’s and he also passed by on the other side.
“But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him.”
A Samaritan came along. An outsider and one greatly disliked at that. This Samaritan not only showed compassion but he administered first aid on the spot. He placed the injured man on his own beast and took him to an inn, the equivalent to a modern day hotel. But this Samaritan was not done …
“On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, ”˜Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.”
We may have trouble figuring out the monetary value left here. “A denarius is equivalent to a day’s wages for a working man” (The New American Commentary, Vol. 24, page 318). This man was giving up more than a day’s wages to see to it that a stranger was well taken care of.
As the restrictions are lifted and in particular, masks are removed, I want to be like the Samaritan. I want a heart of compassion which cares for those around me, including those I may not know. I want to go the extra mile and sacrifice my own comfort and ease, for those who may not be as fortunate.
I want to remember …
the healthy and unhealthy.
I have been thinking about the challenging months we have all experienced. I ask myself the question, often, “What have I learned?” I also ask myself, “How do I want to emerge from this?”
Jesus ended the parable by asking a question of the lawyer:
“Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?”
The lawyer replied to Jesus, “The one who showed mercy toward him.”
This parable, which Jesus told, has provided the answers
for which I have been searching –
may I live extending mercy, grace, and compassion to those around me.