With all the noise in the world, do you hear the voice of God? Your calendar tells you what to do, but do you remember who you are? Being comes before doing. This is a call to put first things first. Return to the Lord with this daily pattern of prayer and devotion. Set aside this time as a sanctuary. Find a space free of distraction and follow this pattern.
Make the sign of the cross, and say,
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” (Matt. 5:7) You are the great Giver of mercy. Move me to show your mercy. Amen.
Word: Luke 10:25-29
And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And 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 answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
When is a door not a door? When it’s “ajar”! Ok sorry for the bad dad joke.
But when is a question not a question? When self-righteous people are speaking to Jesus! Like the man talking to Jesus in this passage, we all scramble to justify ourselves. Nothing displays this more than how readily we justify our withheld love. When confronted with co-workers, friends, siblings, "neighbors" in all senses of the word, we tell ourselves that we’ve done the best we can. There’s the litany of qualifiers: She’s just impossible to deal with. He’s had his chance. Honestly, who could deal with the most annoying habit imaginable? At all dead ends, we find ourselves insisting, "It’s not my fault."
Isn’t it true that we want to absolve ourselves from the responsibility to love beyond convenience? By saying, "Not my fault," we escape the guilt that accompanies our most self-absorbed conveniences.
Jesus knows full well how miserably we fail to love as we ought, he knows the human heart better than we do. His demand to “go and do likewise”, reveals the chasm: that we—in our failure to love and our desperate defensiveness of that failure—are the ones in need of mercy, in need of forgiveness.
The good news is that there’s no more justifying ourselves before God. No more lists of reasons or acrobatic excuses. We can just be who we are, as it is said in Titus: "But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy... so that being justified by His grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life" (3:4-7).
Prayer for Neighbors
· For my immediate geographical neighbors.
· For my community, neighborhood, town/city.
· For neighbors hurting from broken families, addiction, violence, abuse, poverty, sickness.
· For the eyes of the Good Samaritan, to see and help my neighbor in need.
Father, may I love those less fortunate than I am, as well as those who have had great success. Free me from the burden of envy. In Jesus’ name, Amen!