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Fifth Sunday after Pentecost - July 14th
To love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind is to reflect God’s mercy in responding to one’s neighbor. That mercy found its most profound expression in the “gospel that has come to you”—namely the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. That gospel mercy comes to us again today: at the font, at the altar, and from the pulpit. It is very near to you.
Readings and Psalm
The Lord will take delight in your fruitfulness
Show me your ways, O Lord, and teach me your paths. (Ps. 25:4)
The gospel is growing, bearing fruit in the whole world
The parable of the merciful Samaritan
Who Are You?
Who do you identify with in the parable? This is part of what makes parables so powerful. Some days we read the story through the eyes of the priest or the Levite. Some days we feel like the Samaritan. And then there are those days when we are the man in the ditch. Some days you are the windshield and some days you are the bug, as the saying goes.
It is easy to miss the shocking nature of this parable if we start to think that this story only teaches us to imitate the Samaritan. The parable says so much more about God, our relationship to God, and the lengths to which God will go to reach out to us.
Through the image of the Samaritan, Jesus lifts up a surprising rescuer as an image of the God who relentlessly cares for those in need. Could it be that we are meant to identify not with the Samaritan or even the lawyer to whom Jesus speaks the parable, but rather with the man who is hopeless and left for dead? Could it be that Christ is the good Samaritan who embraces us with the tender compassion of God?
All of the sudden the parable is turned on its head. Jesus is not just giving us a comfortable morality tale reminding us to be nice, helpful, generous people. Instead Jesus is proclaiming the good news of the kingdom. God’s grace comes to us through the cross. God’s grace comes to us even—and especially—when we are at our worst, when we struggle in the depths and cry out for help. Even when we cannot or will not cry out, mercy and grace come into our lives through Jesus. So whether you are on the road or in the ditch, Jesus even now is coming for you.