The one drawback as a selfish individual and at the same time being a Christian are the home truths I often have to face. Saying and talking are easy. Much of my reflective writing mirrors this personal truth. However, doing is another matter entirely.
During my recent incarceration in hospital (for despite the tireless work of the nurses, that is what it felt like) I sallied forth to the Sunday Morning service held by the Hospital Chaplain. A small gathering, but a welcome relief from the tedium of the hospital ward. The reading was a well-known one even to atheists, that of the Good Samaritan. How can I hear such a story so many times and yet get a fresh message from it? The answer is that God’s word is a living word and I am a living being. The speaker focused on two things and they hit my hard heat like armour piercing arrows.
The first thing I picked up on was the teacher trying to trap Jesus with words was ‘who is my neighbour’ and it hit home for me when the second point at the end of the address by the Chaplain was made. The Samaritan was a symbol of a despised and hated race by the Jews of the time. Racial tension, division etc is not new today, it existed right from Cain and Abel. So what was new then? Well, for me it was the message that I have to love the unlovely. It’s easy to love and care for those we like and I am no different.
The story may well have been created to make a point, and we are left to wonder how the victim of the robbery reacted or how the Samaritan’s gesture was received in some quarters and I’m thinking in particular of his own people. Yet again and again I kept hearing the words ‘love the unlovely’. I have in the past found myself being judgemental and having the audacity to think/say just who deserves God’s love, which is of course wrong. His love is unconditional and free. It’s almost an outrage from my angle to think that it should be worked for or earned.
Going back to my hospitalisation I found within minutes of the Service just what God was trying to tell me and I didn’t like it I’m honest. On my return to the ward I found a bloke laid on the bed opposite, snoring like a drain. I had spent the previous night for once in splendid isolation and the silence was bliss. Anyone who has tried sleep on a busy hospital ward knows what I mean. So the intrusion was not welcome. The lesson I had relearnt minutes before was now calling me to put it into practise. I find it easy to criticise and see the bad in people. I can be one of the most judgemental of beings and have a character defect that needs a close watch; that of seeing the bad things and not the good. I can be as considerate to another being as the next man, unless it demands personal sacrifice or patience.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying I am a bad person, but nor am I saying I get it right all the time either. I have a favourite saying that goes along the lines of “There was only one perfect person, and we nailed him to a cross!”