25th Sunday After Pentecost
from a Mom's Perspective
Luke 10:25-37 On one occasion, an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
He answered, “‘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, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'
“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this, and you will live.”
But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
In reply, Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
When life gets confusing, I often think that it would have been wonderful to stand in that law expert's place! Imagine having the opportunity to simply ask Christ, face to face, what WE, each of us individually, can do to merit eternal life! How great it would be to just ask Him like that! Then I remember that everything written in scripture is for our instruction, and I realize I AM that man. He speaks to ME, a mother, a wife, an everyday person. He speaks to us all through that discourse.
This idea prompts me to wonder what it would look like if I were that person asking that same question in that same story. I imagine myself in my usual place, maybe gathered together with other moms, like at a homeschool conference somewhere, with my kids in tow, all watching as I ask the question of Jesus. "What can I do to merit eternal life?"
As he gives me that same reply, I notice, homeschool mom that I am, that He uses the word "love" as the only active verb. It is clear that I must love above all else. I am happy because, as a mother, the love part comes easy. It's what we do. We love like nobody's business! We bear, feed, clothe, nurture, educate, clean after our household on a 24/7 basis and usually without sleep or complaint...usually. And if you asked us why we would just say that it was for love of them, nothing else. This is not a novel concept for a mother. But there are some conditions that can sometimes be hard to navigate. We ask, "But Lord, who is my household? Who is my child?". If the Gospel writer uses the term "neighbor" for this man, in his circumstance, it follows that we can see ourselves applying it this way to our own.
Then comes the answer. Reread the passage and picture that man who came down from Jericho as your child. It is easy to do all that for him, and you probably already have done so. No problem. Now picture the man as the woman at Co-op with the obnoxious attitude who criticizes you and your beloved children on the regular. Perhaps it's that relative who just gets under your skin and pushes every button. I see that when she falls among the robbers, Jesus tells me that I need to be a loving mother to her too. Whether she likes it or even knows it or not. This is harder.
I must not ignore her as the others did. I must see her suffering and be the one to lift her up as she remains unconscious of her difficulties or even of my help. I must carry her to safety, whether it is a matter of speaking kindly to her or defending her when she is right when my heart wants to watch her fail. When she is in such need, I must give her resources that were meant for me and mine, without worrying about the loss, and then I must circle back to check on her and be absolutely sure she is ok. Oh my! Who knows how she'll react to that! Yet Jesus never mentions that consideration, so we must deem it as unimportant as He does and just do it. Yes, this is harder.
As I place myself in this scenario, I remember that my children are watching me. They are always vigilant to catch cues from our behavior that will either justify or condemn tendencies and patterns of behavior that are being formed within them. They trust our judgment, and so they want to copy us in everything. Therefore, we must act wisely because what they do in the future is based upon what we show them now. How they learn to interact with others will shape their world and determine their righteousness before God. We have a tremendous responsibility to get things right, always and in real-time.