So, the guy was down and out. Not on his back only, but on his life. He was just beaten up by those who carry out the forces of evil, those who need to cheat, lie, steal, rob, and get violent in order to satisfy their original sin. The kind we try to avoid at all costs, I hope.
They beat him, left him on the side of the road, fortunately still alive, but half dead, and who comes lollygagging down the road but a priest on his way to a wedding. The priest can’t touch the beaten man, or assist him, because if he gets any of the blood on his person, then he becomes unclean and will no longer be available to perform the upcoming wedding ceremony. And, he will lose out on his $1000 stipend, which is not in the back of his mind, but in the front of it.
The priest has memorized God’s commandment of loving your neighbor. But in the moment, he takes that loving commandment of God, a commandment meant to bring forth the best in us, and says to himself in the moment, “That commandment is too mysterious and remote for me. It’s too far up in the sky. I can’t reach that far up in the sky and grab it for this encounter before me with a beaten man. I can’t carry it out. I need a spaceship. I need Apollo 11 to go up and get it on their way to the moon and bring it back to me, this commandment of mercy.” So, off he goes to the wedding, a thousand dollars richer.
Next, the Levite hops down the road in his new sandals. He sees the same sight as the priest, stands there for a moment as he encounters two things; a beaten man, and, his own conscience. “I really should help this guy. I know it’s the right thing to do before God. But I think this is a setup on the road to Jericho. That blood looks like Hollywood blood, the fake kind that came over from the land of tinsel and fake. That blood looks too real to be real.”
So, the Levite convinces himself that God’s commandment of mercy is too far across the sea. “Who’s gonna to take a cruise and get it for me, and bring it back so I can carry it out? Who would like to take a cruise across the sea for the Levite, find that mysterious and remote commandment and bring it back, so a beaten man can be cared for with love and mercy?” The Levite’s conscience is not up to par; he’s in need of some spiritual help, like our prayers. His spiritual life matches that of the beaten man’s physical appearance.” Off he goes into the wild blue yonder of the desert.
And then comes along the Christian. I’m sorry, the Samaritan, who imitates a Christian. Where the commandment of mercy, love, care, and assistance is not too far up in the sky, and not too far across the sea, so far above or beyond where he cannot reach it. The Christian, I mean the Samaritan, makes no excuses. He has the natural law within him. The same law that resides in every person of goodwill. The law that speaks from heaven, “He’s my brother. He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.” The natural law that carries out naturally in the moment, that the answer is not avoidance and excuses, but love and attention.
Our Savior has shared with us many beautiful teachings and, yes, commandments. And not one of them – not a single one – is too far up in the sky, or too far across the sea, to apply. They are within. Within our conscience, and within our power with the strength of Spirit to carry out. “What must I do to inherit eternal life, Good Teacher?” The answer is twofold: make no excuses, like priests and Levites, and, know that God’s power of mercy and love is within you, because that’s how much he loves us.