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Thursday, February 5, 2015

Today’s Reading | Luke 10:25–37

Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.”

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 traveling 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.” (NRSV)

The recipe for eternal life sounds so simple: Love God with all your heart and soul and love your neighbor as yourself. Yet if you are anything like me, those two tasks get muddled daily by life’s routine twists and turns, highs and lows. I start the day loving God and being thankful for all that I am and have—that’s easy. And then the day unfolds. I fall short of who I want to be, and I don’t accomplish the things I want to accomplish. I make the wrong choices, and some of my actions reveal anything but love and compassion for myself, much less my neighbor. The daily news bombards us with acts of hatred, greed, and shows humanity at its worst. Suddenly I’m angry and Jesus’ commands become the tallest orders. What difference does it make if I love God, myself, and my neighbor? No one cares!

And then I see it, as plain as day, everywhere I turn. I witness God’s love outside the coffee shop when I see someone hand a shivering homeless person a hot cup of coffee and wish him a good morning and I feel my heart swell. I feel God’s love after spending an hour on the phone consoling a girlfriend and feel a rush of gratitude remembering all the times she was there for me when I was in pain. Jesus and his recipe for eternal life exist in the compassion we feel for our neighbors and the empathy we experience when they suffer.

I believe Jesus wants more from us than loving deeds. Loving with our heart and soul stirs us to go the extra mile, just as the Samaritan did for the man who was robbed and beaten. His love and empathy for the injured man led him to care for him beyond simply dressing his wounds. I believe this is the way God wants us to love God, ourselves, and our neighbors.

God, help me to move beyond simple acts of love, to love fully through compassion and empathy just as you love us. Amen.

Written by Patty Donmoyer, Receptionist

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