Passing By

This week, many priests and pastors are preparing a sermon on The Good Samaritan.  The biblical text is found in the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 10, and it’s so familiar that many miss the message.  It’s the story Jesus told of a man traveling down a road, when  he was suddenly attacked, robbed, beaten, and left for dead.

As he lay bleeding by the roadside, two religious snobs passed by and ignored him.  These were the men who knew the scriptures by heart and added a few hundred laws of their own.  They were so busy acting holy that they failed to recognize human need.  Sound familiar?

I’ve often cringed when I’ve read this narrative, because all too frequently, I’ve been the one who kept going when I should have stopped.  I’ve tried to study hard and come up with all the right answers, while falling far short of the Great Commandment…to love God and to love my neighbor as myself. I’ve been in such a rush to make it to the next meeting that I forgot that “the greatest of these is love.”

Human need is all around us, isn’t it?  Many who’ve been broken by bigotry and oppression are lying on the berm as we race along the highway to “success,” assured of our spot in some inner circle of favor.  We might feel pretty smug until we find that our Lord made the “one who showed mercy” the hero!  And the one who stopped to help was a foreigner, a half-breed who was regarded with disdain by the religious folks of that day.  This man went the extra mile after bandaging the wounds; he took the battered pilgrim to an inn for rest and healing and then promised to pay for the stay.

May we be alert to the cries for help we hear every day…and often in the night.  Someone needs to know we care enough to stop, to listen, to speak words of  healing, and to dig deep into our resources to offer whatever we can to make a difference in another life.

God doesn’t want us to pass by.