The Burly Stranger
I find myself wondering in certain situations, what is the right thing for me to do regarding this or that. In the readings of July 15th from Deuteronomy and Luke, we are given some help from both Moses and Jesus. Their suggestions demystify the question: “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Moses tells the people what is asked of us is within our grasp, it is not too remote or mysterious for us to carry out. In the gospel of Luke, Jesus paints a very clear picture of who knows how to love God with their whole heart, mind, and soul, and their neighbor as themselves.
Much to the surprise of the Jesus’ audience it is not the designated hitters that stop what they are doing to care for a man who is beaten by robbers and left for dead. It is the alien, the stranger, the “Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight.” This Samaritan not only cleaned up the traveler, but also gave him a safe place to stay and gave the Innkeeper money for any of the needs of the traveler.
I remember when I was in college, my sister’s Volkswagen beetle slowly down shifted until it came to a stop. We had no idea what was wrong. It was winter, quite cold, about nine p.m. And we were about thirty minutes from our destination. This happened in the mid seventies. Cell phones showed up in the television program “Get Smart” and perhaps in the cartoon the “Jetsons.” It was not part of our daily reality. So what we did was to turn on our emergency lights.
We sat there for a while and much to our surprise a big guy on a motorcycle pulled over. He was great! He checked on the engine and within a few moments had the car going again. I can’t tell you exactly what was wrong; however, I can tell you that he wasn’t he kind of guy I go up to for help. Fortunately for us he had a bigger heart than us. He was my Samaritan and I was his traveler, as well as the Levite and priest who passed by.
Crisis has a powerful way of letting God be God and sneaking into our lives in ways we never expect. Our invitation with this gospel is to look to see where in our lives we are the fallen traveler, the robber, the Levite and priest, and the Samaritan. In our culture we are given all kinds of room to make judgments about the fallen, in our scriptures we are invited to be the Samaritan. How are we called to love the Lord our God today?