• St. Matthew's Evanston

Have Mercy

We never know who we are going to meet as we walk along the road. Perhaps it is a young person who bought a package of skittles and is walking in front of your home in your neighborhood. What are they doing here? Have mercy.

I wonder if it is a father and his newborn child drowned in a river as they tried to swim their way to freedom. What are they doing here? Have mercy.

It could be a teenager who is transitioning into living as a young man who has been tossed out of their home because their parents see this reality as an abomination. What are they doing here? Have mercy.

Perhaps it is a person without papers fearful that today is the day when they are picked up, locked up, put in a cage, robbed of their humanity and relying only on the justice of God. How did we get here? Have mercy.

Somewhere in the crowd, a man, wanting to justify himself, asked, “who is my neighbor?”

“Who is my neighbor?”

Who have you walked by? Who is invisible to you? Who have you dismissed? Who deserves your mercy?

Who needs our attention, right here and right now, as we walk down the road of faith together, - as people of God, - as people living the Gospel message, - as people who are called to love God’s people and to have mercy, who need our attention?

This morning, I wonder if we take for granted the fact that we have the privilege of gathering, of worshiping, of gathering together in a public space, - while many of our neighbors are scared to open their doors or to go outside, hoping to be invisible, all while seeking sanctuary, from the wrath of our elected officials, who have ordered raids, a round up of people without papers, people like you and me who are simplybuilding families, working for a living, creating lives living out of love and care

and concern for others.

This morning, we seek God’s sustenance at this altar, breaking bread and drinking wine in hopes that we leave this place and do God’s work for God’s people in this world.

Have mercy.

Who is my neighbor?

Suddenly, I find myself on the road. There are robbers out there. There are overworked priests. There are neighbors I love. There are neighbors I have dismissed. A lot can happen when we walk down the road.There is a lot of work that needs to be done. May God and may God’s people, have mercy on me.

Right now, as we worship - regulations protecting our environment are being stripped away, allowing chemical companies to dump harmful toxins in our rivers and in our lakes and to dig in our national parks.

Women’s bodies are being regulated by men who don’t see their female counterparts

as their equals. No equal pay. No equal rights. No equal consideration.

Savings accounts that all of us have been paying into for social security and access to health care are being labeled as “entitlements,” robbing me of money I earned and were required by law to hand over to the government. My money is now being stolen and handed over to the wealthiest neighbors of all.

Have mercy.

Somewhere in the crowd, a man, wanting to justify himself, asked, “who is my neighbor?”

“Who is my neighbor?”

This morning, as we step into Jesus’s story, usually referred to as the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus calls on us to consider how we taking care of our neighbors -

ALL of our neighbors. And this is the biggest challenge for me as we enter the parable. I simply don’t want to believe that all neighbors are worthy of my mercy. But Jesus clearly tells me otherwise.

Somewhere in the crowd, somewhere out there, lost in uncertainty, a man, wanting to feel better about the decisions and beliefs that he had, asked, “who is my neighbor?”

Jesus introduces us to a mob of robbers, a heartless priest, the distracted Levite, and a person in need - a person left for dead on the side of the road. Within this sordid cast of characters, we are asked to show mercy. And, as I put on my judgement hat, it is easier for me to show mercy to some and not to others.

Some don’t deserve my mercy, right?

Mercy is a difficult word for me. What does it mean exactly? What does it call on me to do? How does it call on me to change? Who are my neighbors?

In this parable, Jesus holds up a dismissed individual, a Samaritan, to challenge our long-held beliefs about who deserves mercy. The leaders are telling the people that Samaritans are murderers, rapists, gang-members, drug addicts - not worthy of care or attention. We don’t want them in our neighborhoods or within our borders. It is so easy to walk down the road, pass by and ignore Samaritans. There is nothing good in them.

I pass the no-good Samaritan on the street and proudly put on my hat of judgment. “Look at that Samaritan.” “Look at that sinner.” “Love the sinner. Hate the sin.” The judgement hat is swelling up my head. “Thank God I’m not a Samaritan! ‘

But the Samaritan cries out, - Jesus cries out, “Have mercy!”

Am I willing to listen to the call of Jesus?

Who are your Samaritans? Who have you dismissed? Is it the immigrant? Is it the prisoner? Is it my neighbor who is gay or lesbian or trans? Is it the Muslim, or the Sikh or the Jew? Is it the Republican, or the Democrat, - the White Sox fan or the Cubs fan?

Jesus asks us, “Who are your Samaritans?” Who is God calling you to show mercy to

right here and right now?

For me, the list is endless.

But the parable does not end there?

Everything I believe about the Samaritans in my life is about to be challenged.

"A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. The neighbors who I have deemed worthy - the priest and the Levite - have stepped over,

slid around the neighbor-in-need, even crossing to the other side of the road. “Which of these, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?" He said, "The one who showed him mercy." Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."

I only want to give mercy to the people I deem worthy. But the parable of the Good Samaritan holds a mirror up to my face and asks me to do otherwise.

The mercy Jesus calls on us to live into demands we move beyond long-held beliefs about Samaritans and act in love. The Samaritan takes notice of the neighbor in need. The Samaritan clothes the naked, giving them food and drink. He delivers them to safety and gives provisions for care. The Samaritan takes care of the neighbor. Suddenly I realize that everything I believe about Samaritans is not true. The Samaritan responds to Jesus’s call to act in love, not judgment.

Show mercy.

Have I?

Have you?

There are people I don’t want to show mercy to. Our 45th President has shown no mercy to our neighbors looking for a home. But we are called by the Gospel of Jesus Christ to show mercy to all. A senator from Kentucky has shown no mercy for those deserving adequate health care. But I am called by the good news of Jesus Christ to show mercy to all. Maury Povich has shown no mercy for those of us seeking quality television. “The DNA tests are in and you are the father!” But I am called by the love of Jesus to show mercy to all.

As Jesus tells us this parable and asks us to recognize who is the good neighbor, I pray I have the strength to live into that person of faith, that transformed Samaritan, who acts in mercy.

When Jesus calls on us to show mercy, he is begging all of us to see all of God’s people as God sees them.

As beloveds. - My neighbors are the band of robbers. Show mercy. My neighbor is the priest. Show mercy. My neighbor is the Levite. Show mercy. My neighbor is the man left for dead on the side of the road. My neighbor is the Samaritan. Have I shown mercy, equally, to all of them?

That is the Gospel call to us. To recognize our neighbor. To show mercy. Just as God has shown mercy to us.

We are all Sojourners, immigrants, refugees, family, on this small planet.

Who today, right now, is God calling you to show mercy to? It’s not just the Samaritan. Of all the people in the parable, he is the easiest to show mercy too.

But God calls on us to go beyond that, to show mercy to everyone else in the parable. - -

Somewhere in the crowd, a man, wanting to feel better about the decisions and beliefs that he had, asked, “who is my neighbor?”Is it the immigrant? Is it the gay neighbor or transitioning daughter? Is it the prisoner? Is it the President? Who is God calling you, right now, to show mercy to?

“Have Mercy” | The Rev. Kevin M. Goodman

V Pentecost, YR C | Beach-a-palooza, July 14, 2019

St. Matthew’s, St Andrew’s, St Mark’s, and St Luke’s

LK 10:25-37

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