Category Archives: Christ

The Good we can do… together

Have you ever read the parable of the Good Samaritan? Yeah, me, too. At least a billion times. Well, nearly.

But I’m not sure I understood it until today.

When my twenty-something daughter, who has traveled to Berlin on a Fulbright award, contacted me to say, “Mom, I’m getting ready to go to the Berlin central train station… to bring stuff for the Ukrainian refugees coming in, who are mostly women and children. If anyone wants to contribute you can send me money to get some more stuff. Here’s the items they need right now.

And I looked at that list. And I cried. Some things are listed as “urgent.” Some things are “just important.” baby bottles. wipes. diapers. shampoos. detergents. hand cream. combs and hairbrushes. panty liners and tampons. lip balm. toothpaste. shower gel. disinfectant. coloring books. matchbox cars. plushies. sketch books. stickers. URGENT.

Oh, please someone buy so many sketch books and plushies.

The former me thought that it was a cop out just to send cash. Today’s me is waking up to a world that needs all I have to offer. Whatever I have to offer.

Oh, but that Good Samaritan from Luke, Chapter 10, on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho … he set a very high bar. he stopped to help the man who had been robbed and beaten and left half dead. He dressed his wounds. He transported the man to safety. where he took care of him. and then he could be cared for. and he could rest and recover. And, after covering expenses, he told the caregiver, whatever it costs, put it on my tab. I’ll be back to settle up the expenses.

When I read the parable of the Good Samaritan, I “hear” this is what you need to be. This kind of good neighbor. who does it all, going above and beyond for his neighbor, whom he doesn’t even know.

Today, I am a continent away from one who needs my help. Who needs me to stop and look, treat their wounds, attend to their needs, deliver them to safety, ensure their care, and provision them for the journey.

All I can offer is, “any expense you have, I will reimburse.” But my understanding today says, that is enough. Because I know someone, who by the happenstance of circumstances, can provide for the one who has need and can reimburse the innkeeper for the kindness he or she is administering.

I had always set the Good Samaritan as the highest of bars: Stop. treat. Deliver. Care. Provide. Reimburse. All of these in order to fulfill my obligations. The “what more must I do? clause.” By this standard the Kingdom is very far off and always will be.

But today, by the grace of God, and amidst the disgrace of mankind’s behavior to his own kind, I see the Good Samaritan not the work of just one man, but as the work of all of us together. For you who are bold enough and brave enough and whose circumstances have placed you in the midst of this fray, you can be the stoppers, the treaters, the deliverers, the carers. And may God bless you and protect you. We, whose circumstances place us at a distance, can be the providers, the reimbursers and surely, oh surely, the prayers of prayers.

Together, not alone, not separately, but all together, we can be The Good Samaritan: not just proclaimers, but demonstrators, purveyors and benefactors of those who are being the Good News. News you can believe and believe in. Because you see it in living color. In the person next to you. In the one far from you. And inexorably in the deepest version of you.

Together, let’s believe the good news of the gospel as we live it out.

In Jesus Christ, we are forgiven. Thanks be to God.

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Hidden Majesty

Alas, winter chill,
you cold-hearted soul;
you interrupt my
intake of reverie.

In sweet, sweet sorrow 
I clip the last blooms of fall --
wildflowers glowing in
fuchsia, crimson, burgundy and linen.

This daybreak, just past the first frost,
the browning of burn now
presses their edges.
alas, valiance on display until the very last, 
but for one.

     one

One set of glowing petals peeks from below,
having crept around and under;
its parent stem bent and broken to the ground,
yet, this one has found its way to shine upward.

… diminutive, brilliant, petite and perfect.

Why am I surprised this vine has bloomed so,
has outlasted its fellows 
there in its poverty and low estate?

Why?
In its meekness
Its humility
Its hardship
Its fortitude
All of these and beauty, too.

Why, did I presuppose?
its offering would be less,
its contribution trivial,
overlookable
pitiable
weak.

Look beyond!
the bridal bouquet awaits 
its day at the altar,
its fulfillment in the one
counted out,
now counted upon. 

there.
now

What if “blessed are you” really means “get up, go ahead and do something”?

I’ve always been a bit confused by the Beatitudes. You know, the “blessed are you” passages… Honestly, I don’t feel “blessed” at all when my spirit is lacking, I mourn, am grossly overmatched or suffering an injustice. Rarely do I find showing mercy, pure-heartedness, peace-making or persecution to be calm, peace-filled endeavors.

Okay, so you say, but they point us to a future where we will be blessed — as kingdom-dwellers. There we’ll be comfortable heirs, contented to experience mercy, see God, and be received as children. Perhaps true, but still confounding to me, because Jesus always struck me as a present tense kind of guy; not just a wait-it-out-and-you-will-see kind of guy. After all, future promises ring pretty hollow when our today is so gnarly.

So, I was delighted to read another take on the “Blessed are you’s,” described in today’s Richard Rohr’s Contemplation and Action newsletter and quoted from Elias Chacour’s book We Belong to the Land. Chacour suggests that the verb traditionally translated as “blessed are you” from the Aramaic is more accurately, Get up, go ahead, do something, move. You who are feeling low or worn out, move into the Kingdom that’s here now. See it! Hear it! Feel it! Claim it!

Now THAT sounds more like Jesus, to me. So let’s rewrite those beatitudes.

Matthew 5 tells us, “when Jesus saw the crowds (he had been healing from every disease and sickness), he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.”

When He said:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. He meant, Get up, go ahead, do something, move, you who are poor in spirit because I am here to fill even the hollow places with spirit-wholeness.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. He meant, Get up, go ahead, do something, move, you who are in mourning because I bring hope and a new day.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. He meant, Get up, go ahead, do something, move, because I will use your meekness to bring down even the mightiest strongmen.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. He meant, Get up, go ahead, do something, move, you who seek justice, for in your seeking you will be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. He meant, Get up, go ahead, do something, move, you who offer mercy, my grace and mercy will rain down upon you.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. He meant, Get up, go ahead, do something, move, you who are pure in heart, for there you will see me.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. He meant, Get up, go ahead, do something, move, you who work for peace for there I will be among you.

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. He meant, Get up, go ahead, do something, move and keep moving, you who are beaten down and even killed, for today you will be with me in paradise.

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. He meant, Get up, go ahead, do something, move, you who are vilified because of me, for I will stand with you when you defend my name.

In your going and doing, “rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven…”

Right now.

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