Submitted by Jan on Tue, 09/07/2013 – 11:26
Year C (2012-2013)
Bible Book: Luke / Lukas
Verse: 25 – 37
There is a certain sin in the Bible which we do not often read about, and even less often concern ourself with, and that is the sin of being uninvolved. This is the theme of our reading today.
A certain man is traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. This road is through an extremely inhospitable area – a road perfectly suited to providing hiding places for bandits to ambush their victims. And this is what happened to the unsuspecting traveler – he is attacked, stripped and left for dead.
Now, we could ask why this man is alone on such a dangerous route, if it such an ideal place for bandits. Isn’t it his own fault that he is attacked? Maybe we would even think deep down that he received his just deserts!
Won’t we also be justified in saying, like I have so often heard that those who have AIDS received their just deserts? Isn’t it their own fault? In some case this argument could maybe be made, but this is not what it is about. The reality is that this man is in need, and needs help at this stage. The question of the reason why he is in trouble is never asked.
Two people pass by. Both probably have good reasons why they did not help the man in need. Maybe the priest was late for temple duty in Jerusalem. It would really not be appropriate for him to arrive for duty in bloody clothes!
Maybe the Levite was afraid that he would also become a target for the robbers. The fact is, both these passers-by remain uninvolved in the need of the man who had been attacked, and in God’s eyes this is wrong.
Both these people love God. Both work for God. We could view both of them as church leaders or pastors, but, when they are confronted with a choice to respond to the need of their fellow man, they are unable to make the right decision. They rather pass by on the other side.
The Lord views our un-involvement with the needs of others as sin. The priest and the Levite are guilty before the Lord because they choose not to become involved in the needs of their fellow man.
After Jesus told the parable, the text ends with an amazing about-turn of the law expert’s question. Now it is no longer “who is my neighbor?”, but rather “Who of these three acted like a neighbor? Who was the neighbor of the man who was the victim of the robbers – deservedly or undeservedly”.
And now the legal expert can’t give any other answer, than “the one who showed mercy”.
If we take this text to heart, the question is no longer “who is my neighbor?”, but for who can I be a neighbor? Where is a call made on my help? Where does someone pin their hope on me – hope that I have time for them; that they are important to me; hope that behind their sin, behind their vanity and spiritual emptiness, behind their aggression and impatience I will still be willing to see them in their need.
To think about: What is the first question in your thoughts when you are confronted by someone in need? Are you willing to help even if you think the problem is their own fault?
Written by: Dr Arnau van Wyngaard, Shiselweni Home-Based Care (SHBC)
Author: van Wyngaard A (Dr)