Weekly Reflection (NEW!)
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
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Please read Luke 10:25-37 in your Bible.
I once interviewed at a campground in the Poconos. My job would have been to be the summer chaplain providing worship on Sunday mornings. As I was touring around the campground something struck me as somewhat odd. There was one section of the grounds where people could permanently leave their RV"s and trailers for seasonal use. Each family rented their own small lot. The majority of these lots had been painstakingly landscaped and decorated. There were fountains, gnomes, pink flamingos, party lanterns, and other such paraphernalia. Also many of the lots had been bordered by rocks that ranged in size from about the size of a hand to the size of a football. Many of these rocks were painted in interesting color patterns like red, white, and blue or maybe just in an alternating pattern like ketchup and mustard. That's what struck me as odd (beyond the colors) because here were these families trying to get away on vacation from their everyday lives and yet they had transported it out to the campground-fences and all. Each family knew the exact boundaries of their lots. It seemed very rigid and not at all neighborly.
The passage I had you read is the story of the Good Samaritan. Jesus told this story in response to a lawyer's question who wanted to justify himself. "Jesus," the lawyer had asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" "What does the law say?" was Jesus' response. The lawyer answered, "Love God and your neighbor as yourself." "That's right," Jesus said. "Do this and you will live." But the lawyer wasn't at all satisfied. He wanted to know precisely his obligation. He wanted to know the bear minimum requirement. He wanted to justify himself. So he asks, "And who is my neighbor?" Jesus replies with the parable and at the end of the story he asks the lawyer, "Who do you think was the neighbor to the man who was robbed?" The lawyer was quick to respond, "The one who showed him mercy." Jesus said to him, "Go and do the same."
Jesus is saying to us that we should take down the selfish fences we erect around our lives. Jesus is saying that the boundaries we create should not be those which keep others from stepping on our turf or so we know where our responsibilities end and another's begins. We should not be concerned about who or how much. Don't get me wrong. Knowing your own limits and living within those limits are what we must do to keep healthy. The needs of others can be without bounds and can deplete our own resources. Mercy, however, has no boundaries. Don't you see that it is not the needs of others that elicit a response from us? It is mercy. God's unconditional love reaching out to us, treating us kindly, and dressing our wounds-treating us with mercy-is our motivation to showing that same mercy to others.
Pray that God will make you aware of the countless merciful acts God does for you each and every day and in response you would show mercy to all those along your way.