A message for the week starting on Sunday 10 July 2022
Lectionary Week: 5th Sunday of Pentecost
Prescribed Texts: Amos 7:7-17, Psalm 82, Colossians 1:1-14, Luke 10:25-37
Who is My Neighbour?
Focus Text: Luke 10:25-37
At the present moment, South Africa ‘needs a Samaritan’. The death of 21 young people in a tavern at Enyobeni. The Zondo commission publishes a final report after four years. Not to talk about the increased petrol and food prices.
The core of the text lies in the question, ‘Who is my neighbour?’ The parable of a Good Samaritan breaks cultural barriers. The thinking and cultural norm within the Jewish community is that Samaritans were a ‘half-breed’. A priest saw the injured man, but he had no mercy. The Levite came and saw, but also had no mercy.
But when the Samaritan came, he saw and had mercy on the man. He did not stop there, he took action. He cared for the man pouring oil and wine and took the man to an inn. Then he made a payment and promised to come back and reimburse for any extra expense.
Sometimes we find our purpose in life when we see and respond with mercy. South Africa is in need of Good Samaritans. It does not help us to see and do nothing. The death of 21 young people should steer us in doing something to support our youth. As church leaders we are failing in this area on how we assist the youth. We are faced with social issues like alcohol abuse and an increase in youth contracting HIV. We also see an increase in teen pregnancies. Preventative measures like abstinence from social issues appear not to be working. As church leaders, we need to work together with the youth in finding solutions.
How then can we become Good Samaritans? By being a youth-centred church. Young people must take an active role in our churches. I took the issue of young people because this is the largest number whereby young people died in one day. The last number was June 16, 1976. It is ok to go and pray at the tavern in Enyobeni, but how do we support the youth that are still struggling with social issues like alcohol? We need to care for them and open up our churches to be youth-focused, so they can feel safe and be listened to.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer said that there is no such thing as cheap grace. The cost of discipleship was lived out by Jesus, who died for us on the Cross. Finding our purpose as disciples, is to be able to see the plight of our fellow humans and have mercy by doing something. Start by asking God to remove the so-called priest and Levite in us and to replace it with the spirit and character of a Good Samaritan. That is the mission of God’s ‘Missio Dei’, so we can help bring change in our communities. Start by answering the question: ‘Who is my neighbour? May the Good Lord make His face to shine upon us!’
The theme by the Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church, is: ‘Re-Imagining social holiness and sustaining hope and healing’. We cannot talk about the Body of Christ being holy, if that holiness is not a social holiness.
To think about: Who is my neighbour? If our priestly robes are not torn to serve as blankets and bandages, wearing it is but another fashion statement. Let us serve.
Written by: Rev. Linda Mathutha, Methodist Minister and trained Churches Channels of Hope (CCoH) facilitator