Summary: Review of Luke and Our call to Discipleship
Over these past Sundays of Pentecost, we have been hearing from the Gospel of St. Luke. The theme is of our being called to discipleship, of how it is now our responsibility to spread the Good News. To tell the world of the beauty and comfort found through believing in Jesus Christ.
We have been reminded of how Jesus sent out the twelve disciples, empowered with authority over demons, the ability to heal the sick, all as they proclaim the good news of the nearness of God’s kingdom.
In chapter 10 Jesus sends out 70. Seventy - the mission is broadened, and the number of missionaries goes beyond the twelve.
At the very least 70 means a lot of people sent to a lot of places. This time the 70 are sent out in pairs. No one is sent out alone. There is work for everyone to do, and best we team up with someone else to do the work Jesus sends us to do.
We are, all of us, people who are sent. Jesus needs us. The church needs us. The world needs us to accept our role as those who are sent.
Today, we hear the lawyer’s question and the very familiar answer - at least familiar to us Anglicans.
Jesus calls us to a committed way of life that places Him first and everything else second. A faithfulness which is reflected in all that we say, in all that we do in all that we are. Jesus wants us to set our priorities on the most important areas of life. Those are - loving the Lord our God with all our mind, with all our soul, with all our heart and to love our neighbour as ourselves. When this comes first, then everything will fall into place.
A few Sundays ago, we heard about those types who respond to the call to discipleship. Those who said "no" immediately. Those who said "yes" immediately. Those who said "yes, but…" With the last of these types, we were also told that if we had answered the call without the but part Jesus would "fix up" the excuse for us so that we could effectively carry out His Will. I wondered about that a great deal. Then, like the proverbial light bulb, I had the answer. Look at what happened to the lives of the fishermen, the tax collector, the Twelve who dropped everything and followed Jesus. They were given the power through the Holy Spirit, to heal and to travel the known world preaching the Word - spreading the Good News. The side effects of their job may leave a lot to be desired, but, nevertheless, they obeyed and we can be more than thankful that they did.
This commitment takes dedication, it takes faithfulness, and it takes a mindset to follow through. It is not easy, however, in the long run it will be rewarding as you and I spend eternity with the Lord. And in the short run living in this commitment will give meaning and purpose, comfort and strength, guidance and courage as we walk the faith journey.
And now we have the Good Samaritan story. This story always causes me some discomfort. Not so much about what the Samaritan did, or what the two others did. The discomfort came after I learned that in the time of Jesus, Samaritans were social outcasts. They were not accepted by the Jewish society. They were considered unclean. Just as the priest and the Levite considered the wounded man unclean, so, too, were the Samaritans considered unclean by the greater society. And, just a few Sundays ago, we read that it was the Samaritans who rejected Jesus call to discipleship. These facts took something away from the deed done by the "good Samaritan".
Where was the "good" in what the Samaritan did? If he was a no-account to begin with, what did he have to gain by showing compassion for the state of the man he found by the roadside? After the good deed was done it would not change his status within the community.
Well, the truth of the matter is, he did not have anything to lose by tending to the injured man. He had nothing to lose. He did have something to gain, however. He gained a place in God’s scheme of things. Despite the Samaritans place outside the society of the time, despite the rejection of Jesus by the larger Samaritan community, this Samaritan’s compassion gained him a rightful place - it gave him a better chance for a room in our Father’s mansion.
I am reminded of chapter 25 in Matthew where we learn that we serve Jesus whenever we feed someone who needs to be fed, that we serve Him whenever we clothe someone who needs to be clothed, etc. I am reminded of this because of a homily I heard once where the preacher questioned if he may have met God when a young man approached him on the streets of a large city. This young man was apparently down on his luck. He had fallen into hard times such that he had to go begging in the streets.