God is merciful!
Deuteronomy chapter 30 sets the tone. Moses addressed the people: “If only you would heed the voice of the LORD, your God and keep his commandments and statutes.” He continues a few verses later saying that the commandments of God are already in your hearts and that you only have to carry it out. What a great testament to the natural law, that law that is in our hearts because every person is created in the image and likeness of God.
The tenth chapter of Luke’s Gospel has the story of The Good Samaritan. I could probably just end the reflection here. The story sums up our call as Christians, Franciscans, and quite frankly, the call to all women and men regardless of creed. We know this story so well. It is often quoted as a call to action and a call to conversion of heart in the care of our fellow human beings. Prior to the story, a scholar of the law tells Jesus that the law is summed up by “You shall love the LORD your God…and your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus lets him know that this is right thinking.
I found it very striking as I prayed over this reading. Jesus did not identify the man who was beaten and robbed as coming from any particular background, he simply identifies him as “a man.” I think our minds, conditioned to read the scriptures from a Judeo-Christian perspective, immediately identify him as Jewish. The priest and the Levite ignore his need. The outsider, the Samaritan, comes to his aid. So, who is this man?
This man is “All” people. The immigrant. The migrant worker. The person exploited by human trafficking. The falsely accused. The persecuted. The LGBT community. The republican. The democrat. The soldier. The peacemaker. The protester. The person who disagrees with me. The corporate executive. The homeless person. The sick. The orphan. The Muslim. The Hindu. The Buddhist. The Atheist. The Pharisee. The Saint. The Sinner.”
Will you be the Samaritan, the outsider who provides aid to those in need regardless of their creed or background? Will you see the Image and Likeness of God in those who are suffering and look after their needs?
I want to identify one such Good Samaritan. On June 2, 2019, I was horrified to read about the plight of the Good Samaritan, Scott Warren, of Ajo Arizona. Scott is on trial and facing up to 20 years in prison for providing water and clothing to two individuals from Honduras who crossed the border and were in need of water. He is charged with the crime of “harboring undocumented aliens.” The act of giving drink to the thirsty and clothing to the naked could land him in jail. Yes, in these United States of America, the home of the brave and the land of the free, Scott’s freedom is in jeopardy for being one of the “brave.”
“This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.” -Elmer Davis
Jesus taught that the world hated Him and would hate us too if we follow him. He also taught that his kingdom is not of this world. Sisters and brothers, we belong first to the kingdom of God which has no boundaries. We may live in a world that hates us for living the Gospel, we may feel overwhelmed by the politics and power that needs reform to become more just. What are we to do? We may not as individuals be able to change the macro issues that cause some to lack the basic essentials of life, but we can care for those who God puts in our path. Christians living out their faith in the ordinary circumstance of life changed Rome, the most powerful country in its day. Live your faith in the everyday circumstance of life; that will convert hearts. Over time, we will not need legislation and big government to address the ills of society because there will be an army of converted hearts living the Gospel.