CAC friend Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis explores how the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29–37) reveals God’s desire that no one be allowed to “stand alone” in their hour of need.
Rabbi Jesus is talking to a religious leader—a lawyer—about what it means to be faithful. Together, they review the Jewish scriptures: The way to live right is to love God with everything you have and love your neighbor as yourself. Looking for a loophole, the lawyer wants to know who qualifies as a neighbor. Jesus answers by telling a story about a man who was robbed, beaten, and left for dead by a marauding gang. A priest and another religious man walked by and, seeing the man on the ground, they did nothing. . . . But a Samaritan—a mixed-race person considered in ancient times to be an impure enemy of the Jewish people—did not cross the street. Instead, he tended to the wounded man. . . . The moral of Jesus’s story is that the despised Samaritan is the good neighbor.
In using this story to answer his companion’s question about the definition of neighbor, Rabbi Jesus was getting to what he considered to be the essential laws—love God with all you have and love your neighbor as yourself. He tells the story to make the point: What you think is outside, God has put inside. The Samaritan is more inside the boundaries of what is good/pure/loving than the passersby (religious leaders no less!) who did not stop to help the bleeding, beaten man on the street. In telling this story about a hated, mixed-race Samaritan doing a good deed, Jesus is disrupting the idea of borders and boundaries. If you want to know what love looks like, Rabbi Jesus is saying, here it is: Love crosses borders and boundaries; it makes new cultural rules; it cares for the stranger. Love turns strangers into friends. Fierce love is rule-breaking, border-crossing, ferocious, and extravagant kindness that increases our tribe. . . .
In any relationship, fierce love causes us to cross boundaries and borders to discover one another, to support one another, to heal one another. When we do this, when we go crazy with affection, and offer wild kindness to our neighbor across the street or across the globe, we make a new kind of space between us. We make space for discovery and curiosity, for learning and growing. We make space for sharing stories and being changed by what we share. This is the space of the border, of mestizaje [mixed race], of both/and. . . . We can learn to see the world not only through our own stories, through our own eyes, but also through the stories and worldview of the so-called other. . . . We simply must open our eyes, look across the room, the street, the division, the border—and reach out to that neighbor, offering our hand, our compassion, and our heart.
Jacqui Lewis, Fierce Love: A Bold Path to Ferocious Courage and Rule-Breaking Kindness That Can Heal the World (New York: Harmony Books, 2021), 103–104, 109–110.
Explore Further. . .
- Listen to Brian McLaren, Jacqui Lewis, and Richard Rohr on bias and “Seeing as a Social Act.”
- Read Brian McLaren on Christianity as a school for love.
- Meet the team behind the Daily Meditations.
Image credit: Brian McLaren, Untitled 1-3 (detail), 2021, photograph, United States. Jenna Keiper and Leslye Colvin, 2021, triptych art, United States.
The creative team at CAC sent a single-use camera to Brian McLaren as part of an exploration into contemplative photography. His photos are featured here in a form inspired by early Christian/Catholic triptych art: a threefold form that tells a unified story.
Image Inspiration: In this triptych, we begin by seeing just one fruit. Moving to the center photo, we see the whole tree. When we look at the third photo, we bring with us the knowledge that there is more to this tree, an abundance of fruit. It’s not alone. Nothing stands alone.
Story from Our Community:
One morning after receiving Communion, I realized this Sacrament was not my own treasured and personal connection with Christ, but that my neighbors were also my Communion. I saw that “personal holiness” is a contradiction of terms, for there is no holiness separate from others, but only in solidarity with others in Christ.
Prayer for our community:
God, Lord of all creation, lover of life and of everything, please help us to love in our very small way what You love infinitely and everywhere. We thank You that we can offer just this one prayer and that will be more than enough, because in reality every thing and every one is connected, and nothing stands alone. To pray for one part is really to pray for the whole, and so we do. Help us each day to stand for love, for healing, for the good, for the diverse unity of the Body of Christ and all creation, because we know this is what You desire: as Jesus prayed, that all may be one. We offer our prayer together with all the holy names of God, we offer our prayer together with Christ, our Lord, Amen.