Sunday, August 21, 2016

That lonesome road

Sermon preached at Our Lady of Walsingham and St Francis on the thirteenth Sunday after Trinity 

Would you decide to go for a walk by night near Chatham Docks? Have a little wander through the back alleys of Baghdad? A jaunt through downtown Capetown? You’ve got more sense than that.

So why would anyone take that road from Jerusalem to Jericho? It’s a bad road, notoriously full of bandits and brigands. You’d be mad to make that journey alone.

Yet, that is just what the man does, and he pays for it.

So why are the Priest, Levite, and Samaritan on the same road, apparently alone? Are they mad as well?


The parable of the Good Samaritan is spoken by Our Lord in response to the question, “and who is my neighbour?” The words are spoken by a Lawyer, a man who is supposed to know the Law, the right thing, the way to go, but who seeks to tempt Jesus and justify himself.

Instead, we have a Lawyer who should know the way to go, but doesn’t. He himself is on the path from Jerusalem to Jericho. He wants to qualify the term “neighbour” to mean what he wants it to mean so that it doesn’t show him up for the hypocrite that he is. The definition of neighbour does not change. It is someone nearby. Simple as that. It doesn’t mean “anyone nearby who isn’t a Samaritan”, or “anyone nearby who isn’t a sinner”, or “anyone nearby who isn’t a woman”, or “anyone nearby who isn’t black”. It means ANYONE nearby.

The Lawyer thinks he’s on the high road, the road which doesn’t touch the dangerous, bandit-infested route to Jericho. He’s wrong. He walks with the Priest and Levite wilfully ignorant of the dangers of his situation, wilfully ignorant of the humanity of others who aren’t right in his eyes, wilfully ignorant of someone who needs help.


We are all on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho. Each one of us is assaulted and damaged by the demonic forces that scurry about this world. Each one of us looks out for a hand to help us back on our feet. Each one of us is the victim of these bandits.

And each one of us, despite being the victim, has the opportunity to help someone else. In Christ, we have the opportunity to be both the victim and the Samaritan. We are the neighbour to all who are around us, regardless of who they are, and we can help them and let them help us.

The fact that we are all on this dangerous road shows that we inherit a fallen nature. Humanity first trod this path the day that we were cast out of Eden, and we walk it in successive generations. To deny that we all walk the same path is pride, vanity and hypocrisy. We don’t walk the path alone, though often it feels like it. We have the opportunity of walking together and thus ministering to each other when we are attacked by the Evil One. This is the Church, and no-one is too bad, or too good to join it.

However, to be in the Church, we have to follow our leader. Who’s He? The Good Samaritan Himself, Our Lord Jesus Christ.

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