“So what does the Samaritan do for the beat up man?” Sarah asked.
“Apparently he doesn’t check on his religious affiliation,” Carol said. “The Samaritan stops by the man, cleans him up, anoints him with oil, (which was like putting salve on his wounds) loads him on a donkey to carry him to safety, and then covers the cost of his recovery. He gets the man ready for travelling again.”
Sarah looked at her watch. “I hate to say this, but I have to get travelling, too. Can we keep going next week?”
Carol nodded. “A couple more minutes, and then I have an assignment for you. Because you wanted to do something amazing, remember?”
Sarah laughed. “You always remember those kinds of statements. Go ahead.”
“What James and Jesus are doing with this interplay around the royal law is drawing a deep connection between what we say and what we do,” Carol said. “If we say we keep the law, we have to love our neighbor, or we’re lying. If we say love our neighbor, we have to be very open to uncomfortable definitions of the neighborhood. If we say we love our neighbor, we have to do something, or we’re lying. And doing something can be costly.”
“But it is significant, right?” Sarah said. “Rescuing people beat up by the side of the road is part of the royal law? But I’ve never seen a beat-up person.”
“Have you ever looked?” Sarah squirmed.
“Here’s a project for this week,” Carol said. “It won’t be hard. As you are going about your business, as you are on your normal route to work or travel or coffee, look along the edges. Look for someone who is too bruised to act. And then act. It could be someone in the food line who is counting their money too carefully. It could be noticing that the yard that was always so carefully tended by that old lady is not as nice as it was last year. It could be noticing the vacant look in the eyes of the receptionist just before she comes back to the present and smiles.”
Carol looked over Sarah’s shoulder. “It could be noticing that couple trying not to cry at that table in the corner.”
“How long has that been happening?” Sarah whispered.
“Not long after we walked in, she got a call,” Carol said. “They whispered a bit and then have been sitting very still.”
“So what does a Samaritan do?” Sarah asked.
Carol was brief. “Walks over and says, ‘Are you okay?'”
“But that feels invasive.” Sarah was uncertain.
“But isn’t it the royal law?” Carol said. “And it’s closer than building an orphanage.”
A prayer from this weekend.
“God, we need your forgiveness for anger and for the ways that we provoke it. We need your forgiveness for hatred, which has been part of our lives almost as long as there have been humans. And which has been wrong that whole time. We need your forgiveness for racism of all kinds, but particularly the kind that denies we are each made in your likeness and are loved by you. People are dying because of anger and hatred and racism. We ask for your courage and your compassion and your conviction to bring to the places we live and work and think.”