Today is the story of Jonah up to the point where his shipmates wise up and throw him into sea. Then we have a beautiful Psalm reminding us that God rescues me from the pit of my distress. Finally, the tale of the scholar who wishes for eternal life and finds out it is not about what we know but about what we do. I love that the "hard answer" -- love your neighbor -- leads straight into the convicting "Good Samaritan" parable. These are some of the most familiar stories in the Bible; their message is clear and we know them by heart.
Why, then, is it so hard to truly do this? For me, at least, it's far easier to feed the hungry and shelter the homeless than to show love and mercy (at least consistently) to my children, my co-workers, my teammates, fellow parishioners --my true neighbors, all.
This reminded me of the Casting Crowns song, "Jesus, Friend of Sinners."
Jesus, friend of sinners, we have strayed so far away
We cut down people in your name but the sword was never ours to swing.
Jesus, friend of sinners, the truth's become so hard to see
The world is on their way to You but they're tripping over me;
Always looking around but never looking up, I'm so double minded,
A plank-eyed saint with dirty hands and a heart divided.
I stand convicted. When it comes to those we know best, my judging nature rises like a serpent and is so ready to strike. My fervent prayer is that God will help me tame that wild beast within me.
I have been shown so much mercy in my life; please let me be merciful. Please let me be a source of healing and hope. Help me, this day to get my mind for once off myself and let me offer the kind word that lifts a heart. Let me be a listener; quiet my mouth and my mind. I know it is up to me, just help me please to remember, to notice, to take a breath, to access my heart. Amen.