Family Liturgies

Luke 10: Neighbors

by Erika Marksbury 

Scripture: Luke 10:25-37
Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” 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.” And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.”

But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 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. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. 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. 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.’ Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

I’m so intrigued here that Jesus asks two questions. Not just “what is written in the law?” but also “what do you read there?”… It could be, of course, that the answer is just the same for both of those questions. But by asking both questions, Jesus allows for the possibility that it might not be. He allows for the possibility that there’s some distance between the words on the page and our understanding of them, some gap between just what they say and what they might mean, or what we might hear.

The man questioning Jesus is able to answer the first question; he can quote back to Jesus the writing on the page. But he needs help with the second – that’s where the story comes in. And the story tells us so much more than the law does. The story gives us the law with a face, a place, a need.

Spiritual Practice
Flesh out the story even more. Maybe make paper bag puppets or Lego figures or choose stuffed animals to stand for each character, and let the characters (through your kid(s)) embellish the story. What do they see, and hear, and smell, as they approach the scene? What do they feel? Why do they make the choices they do? Let your kids imagine; let them enter the scene and give voice to the different perspectives. Encourage them in their explorations of motivations – concern, fear, duty, discomfort, compassion. Remind them that there are always many stories at work in the one story we read.

Questions to Spark Conversation
-What does it mean to be “moved with pity”? Have you ever felt that? Tell a story about it.

-What are some ways that people take care of you?

-What are some ways that you take care of others?

-Have you ever been surprised by someone’s kindness? What was that like?

-What do you still wonder about this story?

Holy One,
You meet us wherever we are.
In the faces, the voices, the kindness
of friends and strangers,
You are present,
loving us and teaching us,
challenging us and tending to us.
Thank you.


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