This blog was originally published on July 10, 2016, after the tragic murders of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling.
Yesterday, on June 16, 2017, the officer who shot Philando Castile was found not guilty on all accounts. Christ, have mercy.
July 10, 2016
The Good Samaritan | Luke 10:25-37
25 Just then a scholar of the Hebrew Scriptures tried to trap Jesus.
Scholar: Teacher, what must I do to experience the eternal life?
Jesus: 26 What is written in the Hebrew Scriptures? How do you interpret their answer to your question?
Scholar: 27 You shall love—“love the Eternal One your God with everything you have: all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind”—and “love your neighbor as yourself.”
Jesus: 28 Perfect. Your answer is correct. Follow these commands and you will live.
29 The scholar was frustrated by this response because he was hoping to make himself appear smarter than Jesus.
Scholar: Ah, but who is my neighbor?
Jesus: 30 This fellow was traveling down from Jerusalem to Jericho when some robbers mugged him. They took his clothes, beat him to a pulp, and left him naked and bleeding and in critical condition. 31 By chance, a priest was going down that same road, and when he saw the wounded man, he crossed over to the other side and passed by. 32 Then a Levite who was on his way to assist in the temple also came and saw the victim lying there, and he too kept his distance. 33 Then a despised Samaritan journeyed by. When he saw the fellow, he felt compassion for him. 34 The Samaritan went over to him, stopped the bleeding, applied some first aid, and put the poor fellow on his donkey. He brought the man to an inn and cared for him through the night.
35 The next day, the Samaritan took out some money—two days’ wages[c] to be exact—and paid the innkeeper, saying, “Please take care of this fellow, and if this isn’t enough, I’ll repay you next time I pass through.”
36 Which of these three proved himself a neighbor to the man who had been mugged by the robbers?
Scholar: 37 The one who showed mercy to him.
Jesus: Well then, go and behave like that Samaritan.
We have all lived this parable this week.
The brutal murders of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling have been a devastating reminder that, in this country, all lives have not mattered.
According to the Washington Post, in 2015, black men accounted for 40 percent of the unarmed people fatally shot by police and, when adjusted for population, were seven times as likely as unarmed white men to die from police gunfire.
According to a study done by the Guardian, in 2015, young black men were nine times more likely than other Americans to be killed by police officers.
Despite making up only 2% of the total population, black males between the ages of 15 and 34 comprised more than 15% of all deaths logged last year by an ongoing investigation into the use of deadly force by police.
The Gospel is this:
Black lives do matter. They have to matter. This conversation matters.
Because the cost of not having this discussion is paid in lives.
And of course, we mourn all violence, everywhere. In all forms.
After all, Jesus is "Prince of peace."
But let us not dismiss one form of explicit violence by pointing toward other forms of terror.
Remember that both the priest and the temple assistant had good reasons for passing by the man on the side of the road.
Believe me, there will always be excuses to pass by the man on the side of the road. And, like the two men in the parable, you may even have fair excuses. But don’t be fooled. These are lawful distractions from love. They are conveniences to privilege. They are diversions from the truth.
You may be thinking, “But Ryan, what about 'Blue lives matter' or 'All lives matter?'” Remember that the lawyer asked the same question when he said: “Ah, but who is my neighbor?” as if to say “Which team are we really on, Jesus?"
This too is another skillful sidestep to having compassion.
So, instead of filling our time and wasting our breath about who’s side we’re on.
"Come on man, look at this...You’re either with the cops or the protestors."
"No, No, No. You’re either on team 'All lives matter' or 'Black lives matter.'"
Let’s remember that Jesus doesn’t call us to choose a team.
He calls us to love. He calls us to act.
In this parable, the Samaritan first sees the man. This week, we were all witnesses to the devastation that exists in our country and in our communities. The Samaritan first sees the man. And then, in his compassion, is moved to action. To care for, to house, to support the person who is hurting.
So, this week, you have seen.
And the only question today is: Will you pass by?