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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Friday, October 26, 2018

Today’s Scripture 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)

This passage is one of the most recognized parables of Jesus’ teachings. I can’t tell you the first time I heard it in Sunday School growing up. But there are also numerous interpretations. Do you focus on the Samaritan, the injured man, or the lawyer asking the questions?

In reality, most days I probably act most often like the priest or the Levite. The culture of the time taught that touching a dead body would make a person unclean. If the injured man appeared to be dead and the priest or Levite had touched him, they would have had to go through a cleansing process before being able to serve in worship again.

It is easy to come up with “legitimate” reasons not to help a person in need. “I’m too busy.” “I don’t have the resources.” I can’t help everyone.” The excuses rattle off easily. We have all heard them, and we have probably all used them at one point or another. Are they wrong? No, we are all busy, and we can’t help everyone, and maybe we don’t have the money or resources right now. But the challenge for us it to recognize when we can help or to think about what we can offer in the moment. It may not look just like the Samaritan, but what do we have to offer?

God, help me to acknowledge those in need. Help me to not make the easy excuses but to live fully into your Word. It is easy to want to just go about my day and not be inconvenienced by others. Help me to pick up my head to those around me in need. Amen.

Written by Katie Patterson, Director of Urban Youth Mission

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