Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 47; 147:12-20, Ezekiel 18:1-4, 19-32, Hebrews 7:18-28, Luke 10:25-37
We all know one. A relative, friend, or co-worker who isn’t a terrible person but can’t completely shake off remnants of bigotry. When conversation touches on race (or religion, sexual orientation, political affiliation, etc.) they make unkind blanket statements. And when we ask them how they can say that when they are friends with Sammy (who is Korean or Muslim or whatever), they say, “Oh he’s one of the good ones.”
The parable of the Good Samaritan is a story about “one of the good ones.” There was no love lost between the Samaritans and the Jews, so when one of them became the hero of a parable answering the question “Who is my neighbor?” many Jews probably considered him the exception rather than the rule.
What’s the difference between “the good ones” and the rest? Most of the time, it’s simply that we know them. When we eat lunch every day with Sammy, or when he helps us change a flat tire in the parking lot, or when he brings a casserole to our house because our spouse is ill, our conscience won’t let us lump him into a category of people we stereotype. But somehow, sometimes, we can’t make the leap to realizing Sammy isn’t an exception.
When someone categorically condemns a class of people we happen to belong to, based on the bad behavior of a few, we leap to point out, “Not all of us.” Historically (and ironically) we are less likely to be as understanding of other groups as we expect them to be of us. It’s only after we get to know people who are different from us that we recognize our similarities. Anyone who’s been in a high school cafeteria knows that’s not something we do naturally.
The Letter to the Hebrews reminds us God made Melchizedek a high priest not because he was born to the priestly class, but because he was righteous. God sees beyond categories and into hearts. Christ invites us all to the same table. We all live in God’s neighborhood, so why not get to know each other?
Comfort: Differences are not threats but opportunities.
Challenge: Rather than make assumptions about people different than you, befriend and ask them about their lives.
Prayer: Loving God, thank you for the beauty and diversity of your creation. Amen.
Discussion: What’s a stereotype you once believed but learned wasn’t true?
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