In the Lectionary

July 14, Ordinary 15C (Luke 10:25-37)

Can we behave ourselves into love?

In the Gospel reading for this week, Luke gives us one of the stories that even non-Christians are likely to have heard before: the parable of the good Samaritan. Those of us who go to church have likely heard it regularly, and this repetition should tell us how important it is to love our neighbor. But hearing the story regularly also makes it easy to lose sight of this message.

Many readers focus on the first two who pass by, avoiding the bleeding stranger in the road. The priest and the Levite have high status in their culture, and we might expect better behavior from them. Their religious vocations might lead some people to outrage over hypocrisy. But this is not Jesus’ focus.

We could focus on the victim, traveling alone on the road to Jericho. But this story is not a cautionary tale of how to avoid trouble from bandits and thieves. In the details of how the Samaritan cares for the victim, binding his wounds with oil and wine, we might see foreshadowing of the crucifixion of Jesus. But although Jesus may be telling us something about his death, he also has a broader lesson about life.