Environmental Stewardship Commission (MEESC)

Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota

Lectionary Reflection Gospel Lesson Year C, Proper 10

Luke 10:25-37

Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he said, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" He said to him, "What is written in the law? What do you read there?" He answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself." And he said to him, "You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live."

But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" Jesus replied, "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. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, `Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.' Which of these three, 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."

NRSV Copyright Statement
Reflection on Luke 10:25-37 by John Gibbs, PhD

The virtues of the Christian life are pervasive. They cannot be compartmentalized, nor rendered null and void in one area of life. That is made clear in this famous story about the good Samaritan, that non-Israelite who had absorbed and was living out the virtues of Israel.

The issue of eternal life sparked this story. Jesus’ response moves from words written to deeds done, from God’s will to our living, from Law (Torah) to Life. For Jesus eternal life is a “here and now” quality, not an incomprehensible quantity of time deferred.

Moreover, it is not the case that human love is at great distance from the Law or Will of God. Rather, what is written in the Law is both our love for God expressed comprehensively, and our love for the neighbor which the love of God for us generates. What we read in the Law is this inclusive love that pervades our whole neighborhood, even highways and byways, and that claims non-Jew or non-Christian the same as Jew or Christian.

The connection between Law and life, whereby we are enabled to live out God’s will, applies to the entirety of our “neighborhood,” whether folks in our block or in our township, or strangers we never met before, or our fellow non-human creature. If we learn to be neighbors to other people, it makes no sense to say that we stop being neighbors to other creatures God made. The unitary will of God the Creator extends to land, plants and animals, as well as to humans. God’s love for the creation leaves no creature behind.

If we have become, from the inside out, real neighbors to other people, we are thereby fitted to be neighbors to other creatures. We do not stop expressing our love for God (with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind) when we go on a hike, take a picnic, build our house, use energy, discard garbage, construct highways, or otherwise impact our environs. Habitual love for God and neighbor bears fruit in how we live within the space and time of the world that surrounds us.

Eco-justice is accomplished when Good Samaritans carry God’s love into all their community: people, plants, animals, lands, waters, air. What a world we could construct and recover together when the love of God drives us to be good Samaritans in non-human as well as human community. We become neighbors when we “show mercy.” Imagine mercy being extended across land and water, into the air, for animals and trees, everywhere mercy recovering and rediscovering the “good” creation as God made it.

Copyright Statement

To Reflections on other Readings for this Sunday:
Old Testament (Hebrew Scripture) Deuteronomy 30:9-14
no reflection available
Psalm 25 or 25:3-9
no reflection available
New Testament Colossians 1:1-14
no reflection available
Gospel Luke 10:25-37
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Additional Reflections:
Last Sunday's Gospel
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John Gibbs, PhD, is a retired theologian, who attends Trinity Episcopal Church, Park Rapids, MN. He originally wrote this reflection in 2004. He and we welcome your comments. Please address your comments or additional reflections to John Gibbs or any MEESC member, or mail them to:
MEESC Holy Trinity Episcopal Church Box 65 Elk River, MN 55330-0065 USA

The MEESC assumes that all correspondence received is for publication on this web site. If your comments are not for publication, please so note on your correspondence. The MEESC reserves the right to decide which items are included on the web site.

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