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The foreigner is our neighbor

Luke 10:23-37

Pastor David Ernst

Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity
Epiphany Lutheran Mission of La Caramuca  
Barinas, Venezuela

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Sun, Sep 10, 2017 

Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Our text for today is the parable of the Good Samaritan. It is very appropriate because in this vacation time, our mission has received many donations from abroad to help us in this time of adversity in our country. This is God's hand to bless us. Let's think about our response.

The people Israel received from the hands of God on Mount Sinai the Law of God, the will of God to live as His children. Of this Law spoke the interpreter of the Law when he asked Jesus, "Master, what shall I do to possess eternal life? And He said, What is written in the law? How do you read And he answered and said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might, and with all thy mind; and your neighbor as yourself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered well, do this, and thou shalt live. "

He was not satisfied with this response. He wanted to hear Jesus say, "Well done! You are a good and godly man. "Jesus gave an answer that is the truth. Obedience to the Law of God is the way to eternal life for those who can fulfill their demands. Because the Law is the will of God for us: To love Him first and our neighbor also. But, no one can fulfill the Law perfectly and gain eternal life by their own works. We are sinners in outward acts, also in our minds and hearts because of the disobedience of Adam and Eve and our human nature.

That man was thinking of gaining eternal life by his own works, so he asked Jesus again, "Who is my neighbor?"

In the beginning God created mankind, male and female, to live in harmony with their God, the environment and one another. The fall of Adam and Eve broke the harmony and resulted in many conflicts and injustices in this world. But, God promised them a Savior, He who would restore harmony, and a good relationship between humans, God and creation. Then God promised Abraham that the Savior would be born of his descendants. St. Paul speaks of this promise to Abraham in the epistle (Galatians 3: 16-22). "That the covenant of God in Christ, the law that was made four hundred and thirty years later, does not abrogate it, or invalidate the promise."

As Paul says, salvation comes from faith in Christ, not from good works. Therefore, when the interpreter of the Law asked him, "What must I do to gain eternal life?", He was sadly mistaken.

Jesus answered with another question, but first he told this parable:

"A man came down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of thieves, who despoiled him; being wounded, they left, leaving him half dead. And it came to pass, that a certain priest came down that way, and when he saw him, he passed over on one side. And likewise a Levite, coming near that place, and seeing him, passed by on one side. But a Samaritan passing by, coming near him, and seeing him, was moved to mercy; And when he came near, he bandaged his wounds, pouring out oil and wine; and put him on his mount, and brought him to the inn, and took care of him. And when he had departed the next day, he took out two denarii, and gave them to the guest, and said to him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest, when I return, I will repay thee. "

The priest offered the sacrifices in the Temple of Jerusalem. The Levites helped the priests. In the church today, we have pastors who preach the Word of God and administer the sacraments. Pastors also have assistants, deacons, and deaconesses in the work of the church. As with priests and Levites, people look to pastors, deacons and deaconesses as examples of faith and the Christian life.

However, this priest and this Levite did not want to get involved in man's problems along the way. There was a risk that the thieves were still around and no witnesses were present. Therefore, these “godly” men did not show the love of God to their neighbor. Because they had no love in their hearts. No matter what one's office in the church, or reputation, the fruit of faith should be love.

The Samaritan came. The Samaritans had a bad reputation among the Jews. They were mestizos, a mixture of Jews and other ethnicities, not the pure race. Moreover, when the Jews returned from captivity in Babylon, the Samaritans attacked them. The two groups were enemies.

For this Samaritan, the story of anger and hatred did not matter, he only saw a man afflicted. The Lord did not speak of the motive of the Samaritan to help the Jew. We must only learn that God often uses surprising people, who we do not anticipate helping us.

Jesus also asks us, "Who, then, of these three do you think was the neighbor of the one who fell into the hands of thieves?" We have the best motive to help others. According to the catechism, the commandment, "Do not rob" means not only do not attack others, but also help others in their needs. Let us not behave in this way for fear of the wrath of God, but for the love of God. God loved us and sent Christ to suffer and die in our places and do everything to gain eternal life for us.

There is some mercy in human nature. In the beginning God created man in his image, then man has the capacity for mercy. But, without the light of Christ, selfishness often surpasses the tendency toward mercy. Often our mercy is only for our family, or for members of our tribe.

Thanks be to God, the light of Christ illuminates the world with His grace. The works of mercy were made by Christ are reflected in the lives of many and relieve the cruelty of this sinful world. We have known the love of God in Christ because of our baptism. We have known the love of God through the hands of strangers. We respond in prayer to the hurricanes in the Caribbean and the US, the earthquake in Mexico, the typhoons in Asia and the floods in Maracay and Valencia. We can not attend to all the afflictions in this world, but we can pray to God and think of our resources ifor what we can do. It is a privilege to show God's love to others. It is the mission of the church. In this we have peace that surpasses all understanding. Amen.

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