Readings for the Fifth Sunday after Pentecost
Leviticus 19:9-18; Colossians 1:1-14; Luke 10:25-37
There’s a Peanuts cartoon in which Lucy tells Linus he’ll never be a doctor because he doesn’t love mankind, to which Linus responds: “I love mankind…it’s PEOPLE I can’t stand!” Yes, it’s easy to talk about loving our neighbor. But what happens when that “neighbor” is someone for whom you have no respect? Or someone who has hurt you or a loved one? Or someone whose views and life choices are contrary to everything you believe in? That’s when we start to feel the real weight of God’s Golden Rule.
God called His people to love their neighbors from the very beginning of their life together. The reason for this command is that they should reflect God’s own holy character. God shows no partiality; His mercy extends to all people. (Lv 19).
The Gospel lesson gives us the Parable of the Good Samaritan. This is a well-known story that Jesus told in answer to questions about how we gain eternal life and who is our neighbor. The surprise hero of the story is a despised foreigner who goes above and beyond the call of duty to help a stranger in need. This parable calls us out for placing limits on whom we choose to offer mercy. But it also gives us a beautiful picture of the mercy that Christ has shown to us and all our neighbors. “Go and do likewise.” (Lk 10)
In the Epistle lesson, Paul begins his letter to the Colossians by offering thanks to God for the faith, hope, and love He has put into their hearts. He also prays that God would fill them with power, endurance, and patience. (Col 1)