There is testing and justifying going on in today's Gospel selection, much like what happens regularly in our daily lives. People often test: others and themselves. Just as often we justify our actions, whether out of a sense of insecurity, defensiveness or some other reason. Jesus does not let the perpetrator of these actions get away with them. He asks about basic rules and then tells a story and asks a question to which there is only one answer: the one who helped, the surprising character, lives according to the precepts of the kingdom Jesus is announcing. And then Jesus tells us the simple truth: Go and do likewise. Go and help, respond to those who cross our path.
I think we can fall into justification and testing because we do not follow these instructions as well as we might. We can so easily get absorbed into the grind of our daily lives, our over-filled schedules, our "other" commitments, perhaps our self-absorption in the woes that can afflict us, that we turn a blind eye to those in need. Or, perhaps, we write a check to a favorite charity or cause and think that is enough to respond to Jesus' instructions. The parable Jesus gives us today clearly indicates that we are being self-delusional to think that just giving money is enough: our individual response and actual personal involvement is just as important.
We are reminded today that when someone in need crosses our path, no matter how busy we are, our call is to reach out and help. So simple.....and so hard to live in to.
Copyright 2010, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.