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Friday, July 12, 2019

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Demonization of the other is nothing new. Today's reading reminds us that Jews and Samaritans, though neighbors, did not associate. In his work to proclaim the freedom of the gospel, even a reformer like Martin Luther sometimes wrote things about the pope, Jews, Muslims, Anabaptists, and others that we of the Lutheran tradition lament and in some cases have officially apologized for. Our passions and prejudices can lead us to the conviction that persons who disagree with us are not only wrong but are of less worth.

Jesus' parable corrects us and leads us to follow him in a different way. Mercy, which is never transactional and is never deserved, is given freely by God. In such a way we extend mercy to and include others we might prefer not to see as our neighbors. That is the way of discipleship--to stay the course, not look away, but engage our neighbors and their suffering. This is the way of the cross.

God of the cross, you gave your very life, emptying yourself freely for us and for all your world, to break down the barriers of sin that separate us. Strengthen our faith so we may lay down prejudice and judgment and, having received mercy, may also be merciful. In your steadfast love. Amen.

Erik K.J. Gronberg, '05
Bishop, Northern Texas-Northern Louisiana Synod, ELCA

Luke 10:25-37 (NRSV)

25 Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he said, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
26 He said to him, "What is written in the law? What do you read there?"
27 He answered, "You shall 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 your neighbor as yourself."
28 And he said to him, "You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live."
29 But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"
30 Jesus replied, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead.
31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.
33 But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity.
34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
35 The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, "Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.'
36 Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?"
37 He said, "The one who showed him mercy." Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."

This God Pause daily devotion is brought to you by the alumni of Luther Seminary.