Posted on Jul 18, 2019

14 July 2019

What did the lawyer do?

In other stories told by the gospel writers we have some inkling about what happened.

The rich young man goes away sad.

Disciples drop everything and follow him,

Mary and Martha remain faithful friends to the end and beyond.

But this lawyer what does he do?

Does he follow the command Jesus gives him: “Go and do likewise,”

I believe the real crux of this story–not the one Jesus tells,

but the one the Lucan author tells, is just that.

What does the lawyer do?

That question turns this from a theoretical discussion of“Who is my neighbor?”

to a practical injunction: “What are you going to do?”

In the story which Jesus tells, the first two people who come along must weigh the question:

not, “Who is my neighbor?” but “What should I do?”

For both of these religious types, contact with the body of a dead man–if he was dead,

would lead to ritual impurity.

They are not necessarily bad people–they’re just trying to answer the question for themselves, “What should I do?”

Each of us who comes here today faces all sorts of questions about what we should do?

Probably what is most dangerous for us is if we never have the debate.

If we never question what we should do, if we are morally dead or bankrupt inside.

The Samaritan is held up as the hero of the story because he has the debate inside,

but is moved by compassion–

the ability to escape our own skin and enter the world of another,

the ability to see things from another perspective, to give birth literally.

The command from Jesus today, to each of us, is that when we are debating

what we are going to do with our time, our talent our treasure,

one of the elements, one of the yardsticks of judgement we use,

needs to be compassion–the ability to escape our own needs and desires,

and look to some greater good, someone else’s greater need,

to act with mercy as we would want that mercy shown to us.

Put simply: We are to always ask the question: “What should I do?”

And when we answer, our actions will be judged by the quality of our mercy?