Refugee, Migrant, Foreigner
Hello and welcome to Spend Five with Jesus for this Monday, October 9th, 2023. Start of another work week and hopefully it’s a good start for everyone here. If it’s not, let’s pray for each other and make it a little bit better day.
Okay, today we have two readings that really focus on how to treat foreigners. The first reading from the book of the prophet Jonah is kind of a don’t do it this way. And the Gospel is a surprising story that probably isn’t as shocking to us as it would have been to the people that heard it. And it’s a story that’s really familiar to us because it is the parable of the Good Samaritan. So let’s take each in turn for a little bit and then we’ll draw some conclusions about what it might mean for us in terms of our spiritual life.
So let’s take a look at the first reading. We don’t know whether this is actually a a true true story or something that’s designed to illustrate a point. But either way, it’s a rather interesting story about this prophet Jonah who’s called to preach to the people of Nineveh.
Now Nineveh, in addition to being an enormously large city according to the scriptures, is also not Jewish. It’s not a city predominated with people of the Jewish faith. And so Jonah’s reluctant. He doesn’t want to go, quite frankly, because he doesn’t like them. And he doesn’t want God to save them. So he tries to run away.
And in running away from having to serve the foreigner by seeking their salvation in God, Jonah causes all kinds of trouble. And he’s ultimately responsible for a really, really awful situation where he’s ultimately thrown overboard.
The gospel takes exactly the opposite approach. It is the foreigner who’s held up as the ideal for how Jewish people should act. So we know the story very well. There’s this man who’s walking down the road and there are all kinds of people that could help him, that really could provide something really wonderful and tremendous and meet the man’s needs because he’s been running to robbers and they’ve really heard him, but we know the story.
There are those that don’t wanna help because to do so would make them ritually impure and they wouldn’t be able to participate in temple worship because of Jewish law, but they don’t help. They are, I suspect, not unlike many of us, I don’t really want to get involved because I want to be able to follow the rule of worship where we see here Jesus emphasizing the rule of charity. Some probably are afraid, who knows?
Sometimes this was a ploy. You beat someone and leave them for dead in the road, you hide, and then you come out and attack those who come out to do something that is good. But Jesus doesn’t really emphasize any of those things, but rather he’s emphasizing what it means to be neighbor. Because the two great commandments, the two most important commandments to follow, are love God and love your neighbor. And so Jesus is answering this question about, well, who is my neighbor? Who do I have to love?
And we know the answer, well, everybody, everybody. And the real hero of this story is the Samaritan. Now, Jews and Samaritans were different people. Samaritans were in the northern part of Israel and they really kind of come from that tradition. The northern part of Israel really struggled more with idol worship and that type of thing.
So there’s a little bit of a difference between these populations, and they would not have been seen as the heroes for anything. It would have been quite strange, in fact, to have a fine story being told where the hero of the story is a Samaritan. But alas, that is what it is. It reminds us today that we really have to be neighbor to everyone. We do not get to exclude when we are people of faith.
That in fact, we have to be faithful because that’s what God wants from each one of us. And being faithful means recognizing that every human being is made in God’s image and likeness. Recognizing that every human being is our neighbor. And so let us ask God to help us not only to be filled with charity, but to be filled with justice. And let’s pray for all people that they might come to know their God-given dignity in the person of the Lord Jesus.
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