Thy Kingdom Come, Day 8

Day 8
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 travelling 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.’ Luke 10.29-37

Over the last couple of days we have looked at Jesus’ summary of the law, but one question remains and Luke’s Gospel seeks to answer it: Who is my neighbor? In the Hebrew, “Love your neighbor as yourself” can also be rendered as “Love your neighbor who is like yourself.” So when the Scribe asks Jesus, “who is my neighbor?” I think he is asking a question many of us have had in life. Who is like me? Who deserves the same dignity as myself? Who’s in and who’s out? Jesus answers with a parable that has a set up like an old joke. In his culture, a parables would be set up with stock characters, in this case a priest, a Levite, and the audience would have expected, an Israelite, much as we would set up a joke with, “A priest, a rabbi, and a minister walk into a bar…” But Jesus flips the script. The third person in the line up is a Samaritan, the archetype of “The Other.” So Jesus tells us that the one who is most different from you, that person is like yourself. Go and do likewise.

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial,
and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours,
now and for ever. Amen.

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