Luke 10 from verse 25: the parable of the ‘good’ Samaritan
When it comes to helping and caring and supporting the needy, ‘goodness’ means moving beyond talking the talk to walking the walk.
Justice will not happen without lots of commitment for life!
The parable is almost too familiar. I recall being taken, as most Christian groups are taken, down the road from Jerusalem to Jericho. It really is down – Jericho is well below sea level. The punch-line is, as every preacher will tell you ever since the letter of James in the New Testament: faith without works is not faith. Those who hear the message and do nothing, says Jesus, are more disobedient than those who never heard the message and did nothing anyway. We cannot say we never knew.
So what can we do? Commitment for Life invites us to be positive, in a world full of negative stories, especially about the Middle East. CforL is not primarily about the relief of immediate suffering – God knows we need that especially after the recent bombings and rocket attacks. But it is about what we sometimes call ‘world development’, a strange phrase which means trying to ensure that things get better overall in the medium and long term. Kindness leading to justice – both aspects of a divine love. (In the church we will see pictures which demonstrate the problem and some efforts being made to build a better future.)
Sometimes the process of world development feels like driving with the handbrake on. There are so many powerful factors at work to prevent things getting better. We could spend a long time compiling a list of reasons why life for all the peoples of that region is fraught with tension and violence and bitterness, a long list beginning with Abraham and continuing to Assad. But in God’s eyes, says Jesus rather controversially, the point is not whose fault it is but what you do about the resultant suffering and poverty.
As I have said many times, just because we cannot do enough can never mean we should not do what we can. Jesus’ teaching, his calling of disciples, his reassurance and encouragement, his challenge to the powerful, his sheer loving kindness – we can replicate this a little. We can think and act, we can pray and we can give; we can actually make a difference.
Reflect on the Commitment for Life prayer:
O God, who gave us life to cherish and enjoy,
and made us capable, in its service,
of costly love and powerful commitment:
help us to choose life in all its fullness,
not only for ourselves and for our children
but for all our struggling world,
for whom you were content to lay down your life
in Jesus Christ our Lord.
Revd Peter Brain