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The traveling disciples Jesus sent out returned after their community-blessing adventures with fantastic news. How about you? Now we will meet one of those religious-types who wanted to prove himself, looking for a loophole in the definition of “neighbor.” He was no Mr. Rogers!
Being a “neighbor” in 2022 can be challenging and complicated. But it wasn’t easy in the first century either. Jesus tells one of his most memorable stories, the “Good Samaritan.” It includes a surprise ending about mercy, neighborliness, and compassion, three qualities in short supply in the Roman-occupied territory of Israel. But that lawyer and many in the audience would have considered that Samaritan bad. Why? Because the Samaritan Jew broke the religious and social rules by showing mercy to the Jerusalem Jew who nearly died in a ditch.
One admirable takeaway from Jesus’ story is to be inspired to be a better neighbor. But can we also identify with who was left for dead along the road and received mercy? Mercy may be a bit expired to our modern ears. Mercy may just feel tired, not worth our effort. Jesus reminds us that mercy is needed now. Mercy is wired! Mercy is a needed spiritual behavior that can have incredible impact on those who receive it.