True story (pun intended): As a boy grew, he developed a noticeably odd way of walking. He leaned to one side. Doctors put him through a battery of tests but found no cause—no scoliosis, no muscular abnormality, everything normal. Then his father walked into the doctor’s office, leaning obviously to one side. “Why do you walk like that?” the physician asked the father. “I lost a couple of toes in a mower accident years ago.” His son walked off-kilter because his dad walked that way.
Much of what we do in our faith and church journeys happens likewise. We lean because we have been taught to lean. The priest and the Levite have been trained to lean away from the beaten victim. This is not a moral failing. They both have duties to perform that ritual uncleanness would prevent. They are doing their best to maintain the covenant as they have been taught. So they walk by on the other side, leaning away.
The Samaritan walks differently, though. He walks straight to the bloody, beaten victim and tends his wounds. With no thought of obligations to come or propriety to be followed, he gets his hands bloody and uses his financial resources to bring the victim back to health. When Jesus tells this parable, he mentions nothing of piety or devotion. We do not know whether the Samaritan possesses deep faith or none at all. But the Samaritan shows deep compassion, a compassion that overrides common sense. Jesus tells this story because deep compassion is the plumb line of the kingdom he proclaims. Even those trying to be faithful walk askew. But the one walking upright in compassion is the measure that Jesus gives us to emulate. “Go,” Jesus says, “and unskew likewise.”
Help me examine all my actions by the standard of your compassionate love, O Christ, that my leaning gait may never carry me past on the other side. Amen.
Amos is a farmer called by God to deliver a message to Jeroboam, the king of Israel (the Northern Kingdom in the divided monarchy). Because the king has not listened to the warnings from God, judgment will come. The psalmist also warns of judgment, in this case for those who oppress the weak and needy and fail to protect them from the wicked. Such heartless people will surely be brought low by God. The opening to the letter to the Colossians is a prayer of thanksgiving for their faith in Christ and the spiritual fruit they are producing in the world. The parable in the Gospel reading challenges our human tendency to ignore need. Jesus teaches that mercy should overcome any reason we might find to harden our hearts.
Read Amos 7:7-17. Look for God’s plumb line in the world. In what ways is the ground you stand on askew?
Read Psalm 82. If you sit on the council of the Most High, how does this change your perspective on the world?
Read Colossians 1:1-14. Prayers of mere words are just the beginning of prayer. To what prayerful actions do your prayerful words call you?
Read Luke 10:25-37. The author writes, “Even those trying to be faithful walk askew.” Consider how you live out Jesus’ call to love your neighbor.
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