“Go and do likewise.” Luke 10:37
I am one of thousands of pilgrims who have been guided in their faith by
the visionary leadership and humble example of Francis of Assisi whose feast
we celebrate today.
At times I have regretted the zeal for prayer, poverty, service and non-violence
that Francis’ witness enkindled in me. ( I vividly remember at age 16, walking
barefoot on my street, Park Avenue, in suburban Milwaukee, reading Kazanzakis’
Francis and overflowing with desire to love and follow Jesus like Francis.)
I can understand why some of the Galatians felt like forsaking the gospel
of Christ. Couldn’t there be a more culturally compatible and comfortable
In recent years, my resistance is related to my political responsibility
as a Christian. One of my most troubling faith challenges is highlighted
by Jesus’ parable in today’s gospel of how to live out the core of our belief,
loving God and neighbor.
We move to areas of our towns where we do not have to ‘pass’ those who fall victim.
They are all around us, but we are much more insulated and protected
in our busy, indoor culture of home, work and individual vehicles.
Technology has made knowledge of the reality of victims much more present
in our living room televisions, radio reports and on our computer screens.
As have many of my friends and colleagues, I have chosen to belong to several
e-mail listserves that inform me about the reality of suffering and corresponding
legislative and organizing proposals to address poverty and injustice nationally
I have been too much like the priest and Levite in today’s parable, ‘passing’
on the opportunity to voice my opinion on legislation that affects so many
‘victims of robbers’ in our society and world. I am lethargic about
acting on my love of God and neighbor.
What is going on? Compassion fatigue? Overload? Disorganization?
Some of all of this is true. I get overwhelmed by needs at the local,
state, national and global level and retreat into my world of more immediate
demands, giving in to the Tempter who breeds the discouragement that ‘nothing
I do will really make any difference.’ Elaine St. James’ books
on simplicity are helping. The witness of so many near and far, our
modern St. Francis’s renewing the church, inspire me and help me forgive
myself and learn from small steps.
Good and Gracious God, guide us in making time for the big ‘stones in the
jar,’ this core work of faith in our lives as 21st century Christians and
faithful citizens. Inspire us to show our love for you through our
political action and so heed Jesus’ instruction to ‘go and do’ like the Samaritan
who at personal sacrifice treated a suffering, anonymous enemy with mercy.