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Daily Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Sunday, July 10, 2022  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  Luke 10:25–37

An expert in the law 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 vindicate 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 took off, 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 upon him, and when he saw him he was moved with compassion. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, treating them with oil and wine. 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)

Last night I was sitting at a rooftop bar that had a nice view of downtown Chicago. As I sat there, I noticed several people going behind a half wall of bushes despite there being two signs saying “Employees Only Beyond This Point.” The people weren’t employees; they were just interested in taking pictures of the skyline from the best angle. I was gratified when my friend pointed out that these people were breaking the rules. I tend to be a rule follower and was glad someone else agreed with me despite the innocent-enough picture taking.

No, these rule breakers had not discovered someone behind the half wall in need of medical assistance or anything so perfectly illustrative to this parable. But it makes me wonder how my rule-following, never-be-late attitude prevents me from seeing the full picture or acknowledging someone in need. Scripture does not give the priest or Levite’s reasoning for passing by without helping, but I struggle to think it was because they simply did not want to help. Instead, I imagine there was something they considered they needed to do that was more important. I also wonder what the rest of the story is for the Samaritan. Did he perhaps lose his job because he was late after being delayed by taking care of the man? But the details are not important. Leaving them out suggests there is no reason to justify the priest or Levite’s behavior, and whether the Samaritan is rewarded or punished for his good deed is inconsequential. We are charged to “love thy neighbor” to inherit eternal life.

Loving God, open my heart and my mind so that I may “Go and do likewise.” Help me to reorder my priorities to look beyond society’s norms and expectations and to show love to all my neighbors here on earth. Amen.

Written by Katie Patterson, Youth Ministry Program Manager

Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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