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Pride or Mercy
Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
The young lawyer in today’s Gospel was so blinded by his pride that he could not see that he was in need of the Lord’s mercy. It was pride that drove him to show off his education and intellect. It was pride that caused him to think that he could trap Jesus. It was pride that urged the lawyer to believe that he had already succeeded in loving God with all he was and all he had. And it was the man’s pride that Jesus used to trap him.
To omit mercy in your dealings with others; to refuse to forgive to the same degree that the Lord has forgiven you; to insist that others meet your conditions before you will forgive; to hold a grudge; to refuse to see that anyone you come into contact with is the neighbor the Lord has given you—that is where this brilliant young lawyer stumbled. His pride threatened his inheritance of eternal life.
The lawyer did not beg for mercy. He would never stoop so low; his pride would never allow him to admit he needed it. But what about you? When you fall to your knees and plead for the Lord to overlook your sins; when you cry out for help; when you sing, “Lord, have mercy”—do you let the Lord’s mercy stop there? Do you let it die within your heart by storing up anger or resentment? Do you live only for yourself? The Lord gives His mercy so that it has it’s way with you, so that it comes alive in you, so that His mercy is lived in you and through you toward your neighbor.
The mercy you seek from the Lord is the very mercy you ought to live: without demands, without conditions, without envy, without pettiness. It is a selfless love, a love willing to empty yourself and all that you have in order to bandage another man’s wounds and bring him into the inn of Christ’s holy Church.
The Good Samaritan is the very picture of our Lord Jesus. Just as the Samaritan was despised and rejected and laughed at by the Jewish leaders in that day, so was our Lord. And just as the Samaritan stepped in where the priest and deacon feared to tread, so does our Lord. And just as the Samaritan spared no expense for the well-being of his enemy, our Lord does not even spare His own life to save you from sin, death, and the power of the devil. Just as the Samaritan poured on the healing medicine of oil and wine, so our Lord pours over you the bloody waters of baptism to cleanse you of your sin, and then He nurses you back to spiritual health with His holy body and blood, the medicine of immortality.
Yes, the Good Samaritan is the very picture of our Savior. And yet, with this parable, Our Lord is also telling the young lawyer—and you—that the Samaritan is equally the very picture of your life in God, for we are to “be merciful, just as our Father also is merciful.” We are to “let brotherly love continue”—not strangling it with harsh words, nor killing it with the refusal to love as you have been loved. For “if you will not love your brother, whom you can see, how can you love God, whom you have not seen?” You are to love everyone, even your enemies, to “bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.”
I urge you in Christ: do not deal with others in harshness or meanness. Do not harbor anger or bitterness toward those who have hurt you. Do not turn away from those who need the healing balm of your kindness and compassion. Instead, show mercy to your neighbor in the same way that you beg the Lord to have mercy on you. After all, our Father readily and mercifully gives you His Holy Spirit so that you might be united to His Son by the Holy Supper. Through these gifts, you live in Him and His abundant mercy, even as He lives His love in and through you toward all your neighbors. In the name of the Father and of the Son (†) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always. Amen.