Reflection July 10th, 2022
Colossians 1:1-11/ Psalm 82/ Luke 10:25-37
Go And Do Likewise
Facing My Own Prejudice
When I first started my theological education, there was an incident that forced me to face my own prejudiced mind. We had a very attractive church history professor who is gay. At a luncheon at the beginning of the school year, my classmates and I sitting at the same table were talking about him. I said to them, “Too bad he’s gay; he could make a woman happy.” I’m still mortified.
Realizing later that my comment was offensive and marginalizing to gay people was a big shock to me. I thought I was an openminded person. I thought I was an ally. But there I was driven by heteronormative thoughts, assuming heterosexuality as the social norm. This was before I realized I am not straight and I grew a lot since then. Several months later, when I went to a coffee shop with a gay friend who was at my table that day, I confessed my sin. He smiled and said, “I remember it.”
This is how strongly rooted our beliefs are in our minds. This is why even the most enthusiastic allies should always be on their guard to challenge their prejudices and the mindset of power. The story we read in the Gospel of Luke is told to people with prejudice, to challenge them.
The Parable of the Good Samaritan
We are all familiar with the story of the Good Samaritan, but not everyone knows the circumstance in which Jesus told the story. A lawyer asked Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus answered with another question: “What is written in the law?” The lawyer said, “You shall love your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind, and your neighbours as yourself.” Jesus said, “Ok then do it.” Then he asked again, “And who is my neighbour?” Jesus told The Parable of the Good Samaritan as his response to this last question.
A man was hit by some robbers, who beat him, stripped him, and left. A priest passed by but didn’t help him. Then a Levite, from the tribe of Israel set aside to serve God, passed by but didn’t help him. Then a Samaritan, people despised by the Jews, passed by. He did everything he could to help the victim. At the end of the story, Jesus asked the lawyer which of these three was a neighbour to the victim. “The one who showed him mercy,” was his answer. Jesus was satisfied with it and concluded the conversation by saying, “Go and do likewise.”
Who Are Our Neighbours?
Now, we know the moral of this story as “Do not ignore those in need.” Yes, that is true but it is not the whole picture of what this story teaches us. Jesus told this story to the pompous people of Israel who considered themselves as God’s chosen people while despising the Samaritans whom they labelled as heretics. Yet, it was one of these ‘heretics’ who obeyed God’s commandment to love one’s neighbours.
This story must have been shocking to the audience in the same way it would be shocking and preposterous if it were told to white supremacists and the Samaritan character was changed to a black person. Or if it were told to Christians and the Samaritan was changed to a Muslim.
Jesus saying, “Go and do likewise” is not only about not ignoring those in need; it is also meant to challenge our prejudices towards different people. Yes, go and serve your neighbours but who are your neighbours? It is all God’s people regardless of our differences. As God’s people, we cannot pick and choose whom to love or hate.
God’s Reign of Equality and Justice
The reason why we are taught to challenge our prejudices and love all people equally is because God’s reign is based on equality and justice. They say that justice is what love looks like in public. To love God’s people requires working towards a just world order.
Today’s psalm sings very strongly about the yearning for God’s justice. For all God’s people to be equal, it is required to lift up the marginalized and to lower those in power. As the psalmist sang, the weak and the needy should be rescued, and the right of the lowly and destitute should be maintained.
Living a Life Worthy of God’s Reign
Having learned this, let us take a look at Colossians chapter 1. In his letter to his Colossian Christians, Paul exhorts them to live lives worthy of the Lord and bear fruit in good work.
Living a life worthy of God means living by the values of God’s reign. God’s love based on equality requires us to not only actively help those in need like the Samaritan but also to actively work towards uplifting the marginalized so that their suffering can be reduced.
Go And Do Likewise
After telling the Good Samaritan story, Jesus said, “Go and do likewise.” Paul is essentially saying the same to the Colossians. “I taught you about Jesus. You know how he lived. Go and do likewise.” Just like the Colossians, we have learned God’s Word.
As we keep learning, we should bear fruits of the gospel teachings in our lives. While continuing our charity works as a part of our lives, let us also check our prejudices no matter how subtle they may be. Let Jesus challenge us as he challenged the Jews of his time. With the teachings of Jesus and with the help of the Holy Spirit, let us daily improve as God’s people. Let us go out and live by what we are taught. Let us go out and “do likewise.”