Jesus tells his parable (better named, “The Man Who Fell Among Thieves”) in response to a Jewish legal scholar who tried to ensnare Jesus in his own words. Jesus skillfully evades the lawyer’s snare in a way that exposed the lawyer’s duplicity. The lawyer seeking to justify himself asks “And just who is my neighbor?” He is seeking a legal definition ruling some in and some out. Jesus refuses to play his game. In telling his parable (a common practice among Jewish rabbis of the time) he makes a hated Samaritan the hero of the parable rather than the expected Jewish layperson stock character. This alone was enough to offend any pious Jew for whom the Samaritans were hated, half-breed perverts of their religion (imagine the head of a drug cartel being the hero of the story).
Then Jesus turns the lawyer’s question back on him. “Who is my neighbor?” becomes “Who proved to be neighbor?” This forces the lawyer (and us) to acknowledge that “neighbor” is not someone whom we can codify, classify, and conveniently file away for future reference, but neighbor is who we are as we compassionately engage in human encounter. Neighbor is as neighbor does. The challenge is to go and do likewise. Neighbor up!
St. Paul’s News and Notes: Alex Collins returned from his mission trip to Costa Rica. He shared several stories of his experiences there and thanked the congregation for their spiritual and financial support. A more detailed report and Power Point presentation will be made at a later date. Thrivent Financial will be presenting a Retirement and Estate Strategies Workshop at St. Paul’s Thursday, July 18 at 2 p.m. The workshop is free and open to the public. St. Paul’s Quilters continue to meet every Monday at 9 a.m. All are invited to pick up a copy of Introducing the Missional Church and read it along with people throughout the Synod. Discussion questions are available. Have you discovered Faith Five? Give it a try today!