SUNDAY THOUGHT 19.07.2020

“ 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 ………..” [LUKE ch10 v 29 – 30]

Jesus answered a question with a story, sometimes He answered with another question and sometimes with an obtuse reflection. All had the same effect, it stopped people in their tracks and made them think on a much deeper level and in so many different ways than before. Even pushing them to examine the unthinkable. This was the case with this story [or Parable] about the Good Samaritan. The question from the Lawyer was “who is my neighbour”? The answer was – the last person on earth you could imagine.

The story itself sounds simple and it is a well-rounded story which many have taken on board throughout the ages, for example, The Samaritans who help complete strangers. As with all Parables it stretches the imagination and our understanding of the world around us. Read again Luke ch10 verses 25-37 and revisit what was actually said. “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho”, this is highly unlikely in real life as this road was famous as “Bandit Country”. However, let’s go along with it, he Is attacked and stripped of all he had which would have shown that he was a decent man going about his business.

Three people came along at intervals, someone very important, someone important and someone despised and rejected by the Jews. The first a Priest was most likely on his way to take part in his duties in the Temple, he could not risk being contaminated with an injured person. He made a quick decision that this man was not worth saving and he moved on the other side. Likewise, the second person the Levite also had duties in the Temple and would not like to miss the opportunity to serve, so, he moved on. 

Now before we get to the third let us sit with the listeners who are completely intrigued so far, the mighty and powerful are convicted by their actions. No-one could wait for the third person to be named, one of them perhaps, a hard-working man where the virtues of the common man are extolled. No-one could have seen it coming and the gasp of disbelief when Jesus named the Samaritan would have rippled round the crowd. A Samaritan, an age-old enemy of the Jews, a feud existed between the nations which had lasted for centuries since the return of the Remnant from Babylon. No-one would have expected or accepted help from such a person, it was scandalous to even think of it. 

Let us look more closely at the help that was given, it was way above and beyond what was expected of any stranger. Long term support, thoughtful care, unconditional care for the one in need which was generous and not asking for anything in return. Very much the Christian attitude to “loving our neihbour”, to give because Jesus taught us to give openly.

This Parable taught so much in such a short time, it upended the common assumption that people made from exterior appearances, it pointed out to them their prejudices, it showed the depth of compassion one person had for someone in need. The Samaritan as described by Jesus reflected the Loving Care of God towards all people whether general opinion thinks that they deserve it or not. Everyone has the opportunity to be rescued by God who does not sit in isolation but cares for everyone and is ever-present to came alongside anyone at any time.

Sometimes people find God when they are at their lowest ebb, in the ditch figuratively speaking. Some may have rejected God in the past or dismissed Him as irrelevant to their lives, some don’t think they need God in their lives. But there comes a time when there is nowhere else to turn and no-one else big enough to take on the problems and afflictions. Then life is turned around and folks find the strength and courage to live life in all its fullness, their wounds are healed, the wounds of the soul soothed and calmed by the Lord. Unconditional Love in action, remember, prayers are answered, not always in the way we hoped for or when, but they are answered. If there is someone you worry about, it is never too late for the Lord to come alongside, it is never too late to pray for them.

Jesus answered a question with a story, challenging people to think differently, showing compassion in action, reminding us not to make assumptions but to reach out to the marginalised when and where we can. I invite you to read the Parable again and find out what it says to you today. May God Bless you as you consider His Holy Word.

LET US PRAY

LOVING FATHER,

As You watch us in our daily lives, ready to walk alongside with deep unconditional compassion, we thank You that You care for us so deeply and are prepared to go to any lengths to support us.

As we think of your Love for us we are in awe of your majesty and might yet You care for each one.

We praise you and Thank You for all you have done for us and are still doing for us in our everyday lives.

We pray for those who are in need of help today, especially those who are on the edge of society and who find life so very difficult, may they find their way to you as You seek them out.

We pray for those coping with this Pandemic and having to struggle with work and finding enough to keep the family fed and secure. May they find solace in the help of family and friends. 

We pray for those who are ill in hospital or home and all those who look after them, the professionals and home carers.

We pray for our nation as restrictions are lifted and a return to getting around to shops and businesses may the expected wave of the return of the virus be minimised as we take care wherever we are and for whoever we meet.

Loving God hold us close as we plan the weeks and months ahead, give us patience to wait for the right time to meet up, give us courage to be all we can be in the world today.

We ask in Jesus name,

AMEN

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