Just then a lawyer 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 neighbour as yourself.’ And he said to him, ‘You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.’
But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbour?’ Jesus replied, ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, 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 travelling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. 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 neighbour 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.’
By Revd Canon Andrew Bunch, Vicar, and David Longrig, Licensed Lay Minister in the Benefice.
When I was working in industry, I learnt the value of working as a member of a team; different people bring different insights and thus expand the understanding of an issue. This has been one of the factors which has shaped my ministry. Right from the start of my time in Oxford, we have had a weekly Bible Study where all members of the ministry team share their thoughts on the Gospel for the coming Sunday.
Our appreciation of the parable of the Good Samaritan demonstrates this point very well. I asked David Longrigg for his reflection and he came up with the very positive view in the poem below:
“Are you hurt?” I asked him.
A silly question really, as he lay
In pain, distress, his pockets slashed
And emptied, his body bruised and broken,
His clothes spattered with the mire
And mud of the footpath in the wood,
The trees seemingly nodding and whooshing
In sympathy with the derelict state
Of this broken man.
“Please help me!” he cried. “I can’t move!!”
I did my best to help him to his feet,
To ease him somehow onto my mule,
A four footed beast that was, so to speak,
From my Samaritan village my travelling fuel.
“I’ll take you to the nearest inn,” I said.
“Look after him, “ I told the landlord.
“Give him food to eat, wine to drink,
A pillow for his head and medicine for his wounds.
Here is enough money to cover all the costs.”
The landlord said, “Who was that man?”
“I don’t know,” the robbed man replied.
“He was a man so modest and kind,
To let us know
The value of loving your neighbour,”
David is very much a man who sees the positive view in any situation, a man who sees “the glass is half full”. But I have a more critical view and hence another side of the parable comes out to me, as I see “the glass is half empty”. There is a huge criticism in this parable of the priest and the Levite. They were going down on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho. As Jerusalem is up a hill and Jericho is below sea level, you can tell they were going away from Jerusalem, going home to Jericho (where many priests and Levites lived) after serving their period of duty in the Temple. So, they had no excuse not to help the injured traveller, they were simply responding to the fear that they might be attacked too. In the words of the “Black Eyed Peas” … “Where is the love” in their response? Where is their faith? Where is the evidence that they practice what they proclaim with their lips?
This parable reminds me that there needs to be a consistency between what we profess and what we do if we are to be believed and trusted. Yes, we will fail from time to time… but we have got to strive to get things right and live with a sense of both integrity and humility in our lives. Luke consistently makes the point, throughout his presentation of the Gospel, that this is lacking with those involved with the Temple. He sees the Temple authorities as complete hypocrites, not acting out what they say they believe… starting off the gospel with the priest, Zechariah, not believing the words of an Angel in the Holy of Holies!
In a team approach to Bible study, we all gain from the different understandings offered by each other. To enable this to happen and bear fruit, there has to be Love in action. This is what I hope you have witnessed from your ministry team over the years.
If you would like to be notified by email each Saturday when a new weekly reflection is posted, please make sure you are subscribed to the “prayer & faith” emails from St Giles’ (click here) or St Margaret’s (click here).
If you would also like to receive an email each day with a new “thought for the day” related to that week’s reflection, please sign up below: