Thursday, July 14, 2016

Bishop’s Note: July 14, 2016 – The Good Samaritan

Bishop Eric Menees

Last week I had the privilege of celebrating Holy Eucharist, confirming two people, and preaching at St. David’s - San Rafael. The gospel lesson, for the Eighth Sunday after Pentecost, was taken from Luke Chapter 10, verses 25-37 – the Parable of the Good Samaritan. This is one of the most well-known and beloved teachings of Jesus.

One of the traits of the parables of Jesus is the implicit invitation to identify with one of the characters in the parable. In the Parable of the Good Samaritan, most often we are invited to identify with either the Priest or the Levite who pass by the robbed and beaten man, crossing to the other side of the road. Or we can identify with the Good Samaritan who stops and helps the man who has been beaten, robbed, and left for dead. 

If I am honest, I can say that I can identify with all three. There are times when I’ve stopped and helped, like the Good Samaritan. There are other times when I’ve passed by, rationalizing my behavior; excusing myself, feeling convicted by the Holy Spirit, and repenting.

Of course, what we strive for is to model our lives after the example of the Good Samaritan. Recognizing the inherent value of all people, (regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, economic status, etc., etc.) we would stop and offer sacrificial help to the person in need, and thereby demonstrate the love of Christ.

There are times, however, when we identify not with the Good Samaritan, the Priest, or the Levite, but with the man who was beaten and robbed. All of us, to one extent or another, are that man. Life’s injustices and pains, unmet hopes and dreams, and just the reality of living in a fallen world, beat us down and injure the soul.

It is in this realization of our own woundedness, that we recognize that in Jesus Christ we have so much more than just a Good Samaritan – we have a risen Lord and Savior, who died for our sins and rose again!  In Jesus Christ, we may have been beaten down and robbed, but we are not now - and will never be - left in the gutter. We have God the Holy Spirit to lift us up and propel us forward. Our identity is not as a victim, but as a transformed and victorious adopted child of God.

My prayer for each of us in these difficult times is that we will live the victorious life that Jesus calls us to. It is not an easy or comfortable life. It is, however, a life full of purpose and grace; full of opportunities to love and serve the Lord. And to that I say… AMEN!

The Lord bless and keep you all!

Catechism Questions: 312-314

312. What does marriage illustrate?
The New Testament reveals that human marriage is meant to reflect the faithful love that unites Christ to his Church. (Ephesians 5:21-33)

313. What does it mean to be faithful in marriage?
To be faithful in marriage is to be exclusively devoted in heart, mind, and body to one’s spouse in the marriage covenant. (Ephesians 5:29-31)

314. Is divorce ever permitted?
Although he permits divorce in some cases, God hates it. It severs what he has joined, and causes immeasurable pain, suffering and brokenness. (Malachi 2:13-16; Matthew 19:1-12; 1 Corinthians 7:12-16)

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